Is there still a place for horses in the modern world? Do they add value to humans? Some say horses have had their day and no longer fit into modern life. They used to conquer and discover land for us and worked it. They used to transport people and goods. Of course rich people still amuse themselves with horses. Some people have discovered horses can help other people in the strangest ways.
A book that has stuck in my memory, "The Taos of Equus" by Linda Kohanov was my first awareness that horses were being used for psychotherapy. Criticisms of her included that she had far out ideas of psychic connections. As an outsider some of her writing did seem far fetched, but a strong core stuck with me.
"The Power of the Herd" is a later book written by Linda and it affirms much of her earlier thinking and goes into matters more deeply. From studying horses and horse people (George Washington and Alexander the Great) she feels humans can learn a great deal about relations from horses. She offers human-development sessions using horses. Her book is like a human relations guidebook except she starts with horses. A key difference is that horses are non predators, while humans are predators.
Horses are flight animals and very sensitive to determining the intentions of any creature approaching them. Linda discovered that a horse is very difficult to fool. It can tell if you are confident or if you are hiding some insecurity. Two groups that got involved with equine assisted psychotherapy were troubled teenagers and battered women.
You can read more of Linda's work with horses helping people at: eponaquest.com
Watching "The Horse Boy" directed and produced by Rupert Isaacson I learned that autism can be helped with horses. Rupert's son had autism and he and his wife despaired of ever finding a way to reach inside their son. We saw instances of their son having fits and heard talk of his incontinence. The father searched for a solution and with his horse background he stumbled on the fact that his son related better to a horse than to people. Combined with an interest in shamanism (from earlier experience in Africa) he researched and found a culture that combined horses and shamanism--the Mongolians. There were a lot of tense moments and disappointments along the way. The change was dramatic.
Recently the RCMP concerned that more officers are dying from suicide than from on duty shootings have offered a program for officers suffering from PTSD that includes their wives. Horses were a key component.
Other conditions that respond to equestrian therapy include eating disorders, alcohol and drug recovery, wounded warriors, Alzheimers
Another website for more information.www.equineassistedassets.com
As humans we think we are superior to animals. Maybe we take too much for granted and maybe we don't make the effort to discover the many hidden wonders of the world. People who enjoy horses seem to enjoy life.