When I was a kid I was lucky enough to have my own horse. Whenever I felt stressed about exams or sad because my best friend was mad at me I would go to the yard and just being around her would make me feel better.
Anyone out there who rides or loves horses will have known for years that just being around a horse makes you feel better. But finally we have a study that indicates why. In a randomly controlled study of 130 5th to 8th graders it was found that being around a horse reduced cortisol levels significantly. And the lower your cortisol levels are the less stressed you feel.
Children with autism have often been found to have an overactive amygdala meaning that they experience heightened levels of cortisol a lot of the time. No wonder they often struggle to communicate and shut down. We all do when our bodies are flooded with this pesky hormone. If being around horses reduces cortisol levels then this could well be why we often find kids relax and begin to communicate whilst on the horse. We have suspected this for years but it is nice to have the first in a line of evidence we will need to support this claim.
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