Many studies over the years have revealed the health benefits of owning animals. This is not isolated to dogs and cats and much has been written about the connection between women and horses over the years.
Some research seems to indicate that when women own horses, their life expectancy increases. The reason for this is unknown, although it is easy to imagine why this is possible.
One of the possible reasons for increased longevity could be the fact that many horse owners agree that their horses contribute to their feelings of well-being.
They tend to have fewer problems with stress, high blood pressure, and other issues related to heart health. It could also be because they have regular exercise and are exposed to the outdoors as well as the fact that they socialize on a regular basis.
Anyone who owns a horse knows that there are many physical activities associated with ownership. Feeding them, grooming them and making sure they get enough exercise increases the activity levels of the owners.
Owning a horse can, therefore, be a great nudge towards regular, everyday activity. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that increased exercise is extremely beneficial to physical health and overall well-being.
Women who are studying benefit greatly from daily physical activity. Their brains are stimulated as blood circulation improves and they are more alert and focused in their studies.
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Owning a horse promotes connections and conversations. It can even lead to the development of social networks for support. A sense of community and belonging could definitely contribute towards longevity.
Contact with the horse, an instructor and other riders can increase the perception of social support. In one study, adolescents without any behavioral problems were given the opportunity to work with horses and ride once a week for four months. Their perception of social support increased as a result.
The role horses play in mental health may be even more important than the role they play in physical health. There is an established link between mental unwellness and heart disease.
Improving mental well-being may be one of the most important keys in extending life expectancy and the interaction of women with horses can improve mental health. New equine therapy programs are springing up all over as people become more aware of an old truism “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.”
Women are dealing with everything from domestic violence and death to career burnout and empty-nesting with equine therapy.
Women are often looking for something more outside of their daily, usually hectic lives. They want something that gives them a sense of calm, clarity and comfort. Women with horse interactions appear to receive this.
Horses depend on non-verbal communication and when they interact with women, they are aware of micro-behaviors and react to them. A horse picks up on body language and if a person is acting one way but feeling another, it knows it.
The instant feedback it provides can offer new perspectives and help women become more authentic in their self-expression.
Research into human-horse interaction
Most of the riding population in the Western world is female and this does suggest a particular connection between women and horses.
Interesting research into the ability of horses to recognize different moods in people was published in the journal Current Biology. Karen McComb, professor of animal behavior at the University of Sussex and lead author of a study, says that horses have a memory for emotion.
The researchers showed 21 horses a photograph of a model with an angry or happy face. When the horses were presented with the same person in the flesh wearing a neutral expression, the earlier exposure to the photograph caused different responses.
Horses presented with the angry picture spent some time viewing the person in the flesh with the left eye, whereas those presented with the happy model picture viewed the person for longer with the right eye.
The left brain hemisphere is where potential threats are processed and the right is linked with more positive reactions. The human participants in the study did not know which picture of them the horse had seen. The researchers said their findings could help people bond with horses.
Plenty of anecdotal evidence exists that horses and women interact strongly but some studies are beginning to offer solid evidence that the interaction of women with horses could be more complex than previously understood and may have some interesting health consequences.
While it’s still unclear why women who own horses appear to have increased longevity, there are plenty of possible explanations. One of the significant ones could be the fact that when women interact with horses, they experience an increased sense of well-being and better mental health. Other benefits include regular exercise, exposure to nature and consistent socialization.
Jeremy Reynolds is a renowned blogger and corporate trainer in fields of employee productivity, career growth and women empowerment in companies. He expresses his dynamic views through his vlogs and webinars. In his free time, he learns new languages, reads business books and spends time traveling when on a long break. He can be reached via Twitter.