When teaching horse riding to children, I noticed how stressed some of these children were. Being with horses should be relaxing and fun. However, I found that many children were having difficulty enjoying their time with horses.
The children were tired, tense or sad when at the stables. They were preoccupied and in a state of stress and the horses would be affected by this. The effects are cumulative, the horse reacts to the stress present within the child, which in turn creates fear for the child.
STRESS WITHIN CHILDREN
When we think about stress or anxiety, we usually think of adults who experience this in life. Unfortunately, children also experience stress. Research shows that 1 in 4 children have physical ailments, and that of those ailments, 9 out of 10 cases are caused by psychological stress.
Symptoms we may show when stressed are higher heart rate, quick (high in the chest) breathing, shaking and sweating.
Children express stress in similar ways as adults. They complain about a headache, stomach ache, exhaustion, have no appetite or an unusual big appetite. Why is it so difficult to recognise stress with children? We do not immediately link these symptoms to stress when children express them. I feel we need to take these symptoms seriously when children experience them to recognise stress in the early stages.
How we teach children how to handle stress sets them up for the rest of their lives.
STRESS WITHIN HORSES
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE BODY OF HORSES AND CHILDREN DURING STRESS?
NOW WHAT? WHAT NEXT?