Ways Horses Can Help Us Battle ANTs

Did you know that equine-assisted therapy is showing evidence that supports the conclusion that horses help mental health patients feel calm and more confident in their emotional regulation? Were you aware that the Mustang Heritage Foundation recognizes and supports using wild mustangs as a method of therapy for veterans to experience emotional transformation? Also, did you know that horses are proving to be helpful for patients that are working on managing their Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) condition through the experience of deepening their connection of self?

This is Cricket. She is not a Mustang. She was a wild horse due to little to no handling or training. She joined Horse Bridge on August 11th to begin her journey of recovering from neglect. IMG_8859

The picture below was when Cricket arrived on August 11th. Heather Longshore began working with her immediately to gain her trust so Cricket could learn to wear a halter and lead rope for her training.

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As the caregiver of a veteran, there can be immense stressors when veteran resources are minimal or challenged. While veterans struggling with PTSD are isolated from valuable support that understands their needs, the caregivers can often feel alone and helpless with finding resources that will help them understand and help their veteran.

It can be a very confusing process where emotional regulation can be difficult to manage for everyone involved. What is emotional regulation? Emotional regulation is defined as the ability to respond to life experiences with a range of emotions that can be socially tolerable and flexible in a spontaneous reaction and to be able to refrain from immediate negative responses to an experience that can be unhelpful or create a bad outcome.

The Mustang Heritage Foundation has chosen the Bureau of Land Management Mustangs for their veteran program to help patients navigate towards more productive lives. The Horse Bridge trainers believe in the value of pairing veterans with Mustangs so the Mustang Heritage Foundation’s efforts are echoed through their goal to train neglected and wild horses for human communication and connection.

Some patients with BPD have been navigating through their experiences using horses as a method through depression, anxiety, and trauma because horses are intuitive and live in the now. The horses are said to move freely where they provide a seeming mirror of the patient and their emotional state of mind.

One of the methods used in counseling is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) where patients are educated with tools to help regulate Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). Studies are showing tremendous success points with the combination of CBT, medication, and exercise for patients that are in an emotional crisis.

Gandalf is a Mustang that is the newest trainee for Horse Bridge’s mission and goal to care and train the horses so people can begin navigating to the best selves they can be.

I believe in the Horse Bridge way because, as a caregiver, I have discovered that the best way to help my veteran is by learning how to help myself with emotional regulation and using the CBT tools. As a student of Horse Bridge, learning about horses has taught me more about being mindful with my veteran’s needs and how to communicate better with him.

Feel free to join the Horse Bridge journey at https://www.facebook.com/horsebridge.horse as they forge forward with their goals to make a difference with human connection and horses.

Photo by Jeffrey D Rogers

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