Healthy as a Horse

At Malu‘Olu Ranch in Waimanalo, HMSA member Eddie Nakata (on right) has found a new way to strengthen his well-being. Since he started horseback riding, he’s lost 20 pounds and seen a big improvement in his health.

His trainer, Angela Woods (on left), has been connecting people and horses for more than 15 years. Like any seasoned trainer, she knows the powerful combination of horse, rider, and the outdoors can produce great physical, mental, and emotional benefits.

“I’ve had people come in who are very fearful at first,” Woods said. “But building strength helps fear. When you ride, you’re learning how to control and communicate with this big animal. That helps people mentally get over their fears – in and out of the saddle.”

Recently, horses have been used in animal-assisted therapy, specifically equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP). For people who find traditional therapy too awkward or painful, EAP can be a good alternative. EAP has helped people with:

·         ADHD

·         Depression

·         Anxiety

·         PTSD

“You can’t be mad or angry around horses. They can sense that,” Woods said. “So you always have to come to them calmly. It forces you to put aside or deal with whatever you’re feeling or thinking."

Read more about Eddie Nakata’s horse connection in the summer 2016 issue of Island Scene.