Dealing with Difficult… Situations

A couple of weeks ago I posted about how experiences with the horse can help us better deal with difficult people. Today I want to talk about the horse can help us better handle difficult situations.

Horses provide an immediate feedback loop. They allow us to see the impact of our words and actions in real-time. This helps us understand and analyze how we affect the environment around us. Once we understand our actions, we can recognize when and where we need to adjust our behavior and/or words to produce a different outcome.

I’ll make up a scenario for the purposes of this illustration.

Situation: Person A is traveling via airplane and on a tight deadline to make it to his destination in time for an important event. Traffic is a nightmare getting to the airport, security is backed up and he barely makes it to the gate only to find out his plane has been delayed for an indeterminate amount of time. He is now waiting in line to talk to the gate agent about other options for making it to his destination in time.

We can probably all empathize with a travel nightmare like this. It’s a difficult situation, compounded by already high emotions from the stress of getting to the airport. If Person A has any travel anxiety, he is probably even more worked up.

So, where does working with the horse help? Horses respond best to calm environments. A stressed out horse can lead to a dangerous situation so most work around horses focuses on calming oneself in order to maintain a calm situation. Deep breaths, slow movements, and controlled body language are three techniques used to keep the calm. These three techniques can be applied to any difficult situation.

If Person A remembers his time with horses, he can take a deep breath and smile. Smiling instinctually relaxes the body and calms the brain, even if the person doesn’t mean it. Person A can slow his movements and stop any fidgeting he may be doing. A relaxed body leads to a calm voice which can make the interaction with the gate agent much easier.

Do you see how techniques from horse work can be applied to other situations? Do you have examples of how working with horses has helped you? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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About Me

Hello! I am a PATH, Intl CTRI (certified therapeutic riding instructor) and ESMHL (equine specialist in mental health and learning). I am also a graduate student clinician in speech-language pathology.

This is my little arena where I will share my experience in equine assisted activities and my burgeoning knowledge in speech-language pathology.

I’m so happy to have you here!


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