I Have ADHD—How Can Horses Help Me?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is defined by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. This condition occurs in about 5% of children and 2.5% of adults worldwide. It can be identified in young children when parents notice excessive motor activity when a child is a toddler. But symptoms often don’t really become clear until age 4. The disorder is most often identified during the elementary years, when inattention becomes more prominent and impairing. During adolescence, signs of hyperactivity are less common and may be confined to fidgetiness or an inner feeling of restlessness and during adulthood impulsivity may remain problematic.
We know that horses are very sensitive to the energy we as humans bring to them. If we present as anxious, the horse will pick up on that anxiety. If we present as confident, it gives the horse a sense of calmness and sureness, that he is safe and taken care of. Horses, as prey animals, are also very reactive to loud noises and quick movements, all of which are things that might result from the inattention and hyperactivity of those who struggle with ADHD.
Thus, horses are the perfect vehicle through which to work on your focus and attention. An animal that mirrors what you present will react adversely to one who is chaotic and unfocused. A horse is constantly in the present and demands that his handler be present with him as well. He needs this to know that he is safe and cared for. Thus, in order to communicate effectively with a horse, one must be present and mindful.
Horses are also patient teachers. As the prey animals they are, they care for their humans, and as such they are the best animals to teach these lessons of mindfulness to humans. The deep breath and strong exhale of a horse can be a powerful tool to teach slowed breathing in someone who may live a fast-paced, chaotic lifestyle. So come out to the barn and experience the fresh air, mindfulness, and peaceful focus horses can teach us!