They say that dog is man’s best friend, but it’s time to give some credit to horses, too. Especially if you or someone you love is dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or another mental health issue.
With their keen intuition and sense of peace, horses have found an important role in helping their two-legged companions on their road to recovery from many mental health disorders, including BPD, depression, anxiety, and trauma.
While there are a variety of treatments available for Borderline Personality Disorder, equine therapy offers a unique perspective when it comes to treating the symptoms of BPD.
How Does Equine Therapy Work?
Interacting with horses can help those with Borderline Personality Disorder work on issues related to difficulties in relationships or communication by deepening their connection with self and with healing.
Because horses are herd animals, they are dependent on their keen sense of the intention and emotion of those around them. In equine therapy, horses are allowed to be themselves. They move freely, not tethered, bowing away or moving toward the human with whom they are interacting. They can become almost a mirror of an individual’s emotional state.
Since horses are larger animals than, say, our everyday animal companions dogs or cats, they can look humans in the eye. The horse can take on what one might call a persona of “self.” Seeing “self” embodied in these majestic animals can act almost as a mini-earthquake to our everyday, and sometimes destructive, patterns of thinking.
While participating in equine therapy, you won’t necessarily be riding the horses, but instead you’ll be engaging and interacting with a horse and its energy. Because horses are so connected, they can offer you a chance to see how your behaviors and emotions impact those around you. You’ll also learn how to more effectively regulate and control your impulses, emotions, and cognitions, enhancing your treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder.
Working with horses can help those dealing with BPD face their fears (thus increasing their confidence) and lay the landscape for a safe environment in which to face their emotional blocks. Having to face the intuitive judgment of an animal, so different from the loaded judgment we all feel at one time or another from our peers, gives us an opportunity to look at ourselves with a fresh eye.
Interacting with animals is also a fun way to take you outside of yourself and your usual routine. It’s a great way to supplement more traditional BPD therapies.
While dog may be man’s best friend, turns out horse may be man’s best therapist.