BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — According to a 2021 survey, 23.5% of Louisianians reported that they suffered from depression.

Many have found relief by discussing their feelings with a physician or therapist and then working together to create a plan that aims to improve their health and well-being.

For some, the plan includes horseback riding.

But, what does horseback riding have to do with mental health?

Horseback riding therapy

Horseback riding therapy is commonly defined as a type of recreational therapy that involves an individual with little to no riding experience working with a trained riding instructor. The instructor teaches the student basic horseback riding and training techniques designed to improve the student’s cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being.

Experts with the Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding Center say, “Individuals of all ages who participate in Therapeutic Riding can experience physical and emotional rewards.”

The Riding Center lists some of the potential positive results as:

Improved flexibility, balance, and strength: Riding a horse moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, so riders with physical needs often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength.

A boost in confidence, patience, and self-esteem: For individuals with emotional challenges, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience, and self-esteem.

A healthy social interaction in the outdoors: Partnering with equines also provides recreational opportunities for individuals to enjoy the outdoors as well as take pleasure in the interaction with animals.

Where to ride horses in Baton Rouge

The Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, commonly referred to as BREC, took to its official Facebook page Wednesday (July 13) and encouraged the public to visit BREC’s Farr Park Equestrian Center & RV Campground (6402 River Road Baton Rouge, LA 70820).

BREC described the Equestrian Center as, “one of the area’s largest and most versatile centers for horse enthusiasts,” and went on to say, “it features indoor, outdoor, and arena (both lighted), 256 stalls, a cross-country event course, horse trails, and RV campground.”

BREC also shed light on horseback riding’s therapeutic nature, saying, “Horses provide a unique therapeutic benefit for people of all ages! They can teach us not only about our own energy & non-verbal communication, but they can promote a self-awareness that asks us to check in with ourselves.”

If you think you might be suffering from depression but you’re not sure, click here for additional information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).