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Why Are Horses a Key Component of Stormlily Ranch? [The Science]


stormlily ranch the science of horses

Our Mission: Stormlily Ranch exists to provide a safe and peaceful ranch environment where at-risk youth and those affected by sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking find hope and the healing touch of Jesus through hands-on experience with rescued horses.

Since Stormlily Ranch is not providing any sort of physical therapy using horses (thankfully, our area has that available already), let’s dive into the science behind horses and their impact on people from an emotional and mental perspective.


Of course, another Google search will give you tons of articles and info! And, I’ve read a TON at this point. So, I’ve distilled the research into three main categories that will help you understand why horses are at the heart of all we’ll do at the Ranch.


1. Horses have innate emotional awareness.


If you’re not a horse person, this may be news to you. But, horse people get it. If you’re not calm, your horse has a hard time being calm as well, right?


Have you ever stopped to think about why that happens? Or, how powerful that can be in teaching us to be aware of our emotions?


“Being herding animals, [horses] rely on an acute stream of sensory data to sense safety or danger; they can also hear the human heartbeat within four feet, and research on heart-rate variability indicates that horses have a profound ability to synchronize their own heartbeat with that of human beings.” (The Guardian and The Horse)


In other words, horses are a mirror to what’s happening on the inside.


What does that mean for the at-risk youth and survivors that will come to Stormlily Ranch?


They may come to the ranch with a variety of emotions. While we as people can’t always see what’s happening on the inside, God has given horses the unique ability to do so. And, as you’ll see, He uses that gift to show His love in a powerful way.


2. Horses are 100% honest.


Because of the emotional awareness, horses reveal what’s really happening inside. No faking it allowed.


“Everything [horses] express when communicating with their body language is the truth about how they are thinking and feeling at that exact moment. They never misrepresent themselves, give mixed signals, or manipulate with pretense. They never lie to each other or to humans. It is impossible to deceive a horse.” (Hayes)


Why does this matter?


It may be the first time that the youth and survivors that come to the Ranch have had an experience like that.


Perhaps they’re used to being manipulated by the people they were supposed to be able to trust. Perhaps they’ve been hiding what’s really going on inside for so long that they almost started to believe it. This ability for a horse to only be honest about what’s happening opens doors for God to do His work.


This also means the process of unearthing or even acknowledging the feelings they’ve been pushing down will often begin as they interact with horses. And, over time, it’ll be the catalyst for building their confidence and their own emotional awareness.


3. Horses give unconditional love.


“Horses don’t care who you are, what you’ve done, or what you believe. They only care about how you behave with them. This enables them to give unconditional acceptance to a troubled teen who is revealing his or her true self. This acceptance creates a feeling of self-worth, which can often be hard to obtain with typical rehabilitation psychotherapy.” (Hayes)


"For many people, having a positive relationship with a horse can be the first time they have ever experienced a small yet genuine sense of unconditional acceptance or love." (Hayes)


That unconditional love ultimately is a reflection of God’s love. Isn’t it amazing how He very often will use horses (and us) to show that to His children?


Every time I see this at work, I’m amazed. When you hear and see the stories, you'll be amazed, too!

 

Sources

 

Do you want to be part of bringing hope and healing through Stormlily Ranch?


Right now, Stormlily Ranch is in its infancy. That's what's so exciting—God has put this vision on my heart, and I know He is going before us preparing the way and preparing the hearts of people like you who will come alongside us to make it happen.


Your first step? Join the Stormlily Ranch Prayer Team!


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