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What is nervous system dysregulation, and how can horses help with Equine Facilitated Learning?

If you have been on your healing journey, you may have heard the term nervous system regulation, but have you wondered what that means? First, let me explain what your nervous system is. According to Kids Health, the nervous system includes the brain, spinal cord, and a complex network of nerves. This system sends messages back and forth between the brain and the body. The brain is what controls all the body's functions. It allows you to do things like walk, speak, swallow, breathe, and learn. It also controls how the body reacts in an emergency.

There are four major functions of your nervous system: reception of general sensory information like touch, pressure, temperature, and pain; receiving and perceiving special sensations like taste, vision, smell, and sounds; integrating sensory information from different body parts and processing them and lastly the fourth function which is to generate responses to the sensations.

If you live under chronic stress, are exposed to toxic environments, or are just living in our fast-paced world, your nervous system can become dysregulated. A dysregulated nervous system can show up as feeling lethargic or reduced motivation. You may also have trouble focusing, feel disconnected from your surroundings, and feel overwhelmed. You may also suffer headaches or migraines, feel edgy, have memory loss, loss of coordination, and a loss of feeling or tingling. If you cannot regulate your nervous system long-term, the dysregulation can cause inflammation in your body. It can lead to other health concerns like autoimmune disorders, arthritis, fibromyalgia, anxiety, and depression.

There are some basic exercises that you can do to help regulate your nervous system. Some of these exercises are deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. Getting out and exercising, going for a walk in nature, and spending time with animals are all ways you can regulate your nervous system. Animals can naturally lower our heart rate. In this blog, I would like to share how horses can help regulate a person's nervous system.

Horses can help a person regulate their nervous system through co-regulation. A horse's heart is five times bigger than a human's. Their heartbeat is often stable, and they can hear another person or animal's heart beat from four feet away. When a person is in an Equine Facilitate Learning session with one of my horses, there is no expectation for them to do anything. These are not riding lessons. These sessions are quiet and calm, and there is generally a peaceful feeling. It is in that quiet of doing nothing that the person's nervous system is able to tune into the horse's nervous system, and they can just be together. In those moments, co-regulation can happen. It is powerful and beautiful all in one. Doing nothing and just being together can really be the most important work.


If this work speaks to you and you would like to learn more about my work with my herd, please comment below or book a free Discovery Call on my website at I look forward to connecting with you. There is no pressure and no commitment expected.


Janet Rhodes

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