Equine-Assisted Learning: Reducing Stress In Difficult Times

Woman with head in her hands

Stress Storms

She made landfall in Wilmington, North Carolina at 6 a.m. on Friday, September 14th. With winds reaching up to 85 miles an hour, she brought with her record amounts of rain and a huge storm surge, flooding coastal communities and inland rivers alike. She landed as a Category 1 Hurricane, turning into a Tropical Storm as she lost some of her strength. Many people lost their homes and belongings. Others lived without power for days. This is the epitome of a stressful situation. For many, this stressful situation was a reality.

Understanding Stress

The Oxford Dictionary defines stress as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Every day, your body experiences some level of stress. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night, or you forgot to eat breakfast this morning. Maybe a loved one has fallen ill, or a natural disaster has threatened your status quo. Stress is something that everyone has experienced whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally. More often than not, it is incredibly overwhelming. There are so many stressful situations, and what stresses one person out, may not stress out another. With this in mind, we tend think of stress as a very individualized experience- something that we each need to deal with on our own. It can be such an isolating feeling. However, this does not need to be the end result!

Waves crashing on shoreline

Equine-Assisted Learning: A key to regulation

Yarcort’s Gina Yarrish has found that horses, as extremely emotional and reflective animals, can be integral in regulating one’s stress in difficult situations. One way they can do this is through attachment. Having an emotional connection with an animal leads to feelings of emotional safety and comfort—two things that we definitely lack during stressful situations. These connections can be forged through riding, grooming, and generally, just spending time with a horse.

Similarly, horses have the ability to act as a mirror. They reflect human behavior patterns. This is extremely helpful in identifying personal sources of stress and in developing critical life skills, such as communication and trust. Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) is designed to do just that—develop these skills and allow people to explore the relationship that they have with themselves. EAL helps people increase their self-awareness, which can in turn help them identify their stressors, and or identify when they are over-stressing to a minor situation. Regulating your own stress does not have to be a lonely endeavor, in fact, it shouldn’t be.

Focus ForwardSeated woman, touching a horse on its mouth

Gina has found the value in creating a bond with such intuitive and responsive animals. She works to share that value with the world, specifically through the use of her Focus Forward Technique™. This technique is designed to help people stay in the present, and to think about the future. By doing this, you can let go of things that have stressed you out in the past, put a greater value on the moment you’re presently living in, and take steps to adjust your future reactions to stressful situations! It can be difficult to change what exactly stresses you out, but you can change your reactions to those things, and focusing forward enables you to do that!

If you’re interested in knowing yourself better, and de-stressing through the use of emotional connection and communication- Visit Yarcort on Facebook and be one step closer to regulating your stress!


Author: Ellaina Smith
Editor: Judy Conti
Graphics: Apple Perez

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