Horses and Limbic Resonance

Limbic resonance is a psychological term used to describe a phenomenon in which two individuals, synchronise and regulate their emotional states through nonverbal communication. Recent research highlights mammal’s ability in particular horses’ adeptness at facilitating limbic resonance, which has proven advantageous in the context of equine-assisted therapy.

Understanding Limbic Resonance

Limbic resonance between humans and horses hinges on several key factors, including rhythmic breathing and the release of oxytocin, both of which contribute to emotional synchronisation and regulation.

Rhythmic Breathing and Emotional Regulation

Horses who are relaxed and regulated exhibit a consistent and rhythmic breathing pattern, characterised by deep and steady inhalations and exhalations. When humans are in close proximity to horses, they tend to synchronise their breathing with this equine rhythm. This synchronisation has notable implications for emotional regulation. When during equine assisted therapy the client notices the breathing, the experience can offer moments of the client developing and understanding of the felt sense.
Synchronised breathing, if it feels comfortable for the client, with a horse can induce a state of calm and relaxation in humans. This effect is due to the influence of the horse’s rhythmic breathing on the human autonomic nervous system. Although it is anecdotal it has been observed to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, making it a potentially valuable therapeutic tool for individuals struggling with emotional dysregulation.

Horses and Limbic Resonance

Oxytocin Release and Social Bonding

Another aspect of limbic resonance that can be part of an interaction with a horse, or dog or animal, involves the release of oxytocin, a neuropeptide known for its role in social bonding and stress reduction. Engaging in activities such as grooming or interacting with a horse triggers the release of oxytocin in humans.

The surge of oxytocin not only enhances the connection between humans and horses but also strengthens individuals’ social bonds with their own emotional states. This neurochemical process can be particularly beneficial for those working through trust issues, intimacy challenges, or emotional disconnection.

Equine-Assisted Therapy: A Clinical Approach

In this clinical setting, horses serve as co regulators in therapeutic sessions, capitalising on their innate ability to facilitate emotional regulation and establish emotional bonds.

Equine-assisted therapy aims to provide individuals with a structured environment in which they can leverage the calming effects of synchronised breathing and the oxytocin-driven bonding experience. This approach can be especially beneficial for those facing difficulties in traditional therapeutic settings or seeking to explore alternative forms of emotional healing.

Limbic resonance, as exemplified by the interaction between humans and horses, is a phenomenon of psychological significance. It offers insights into the potential for nonverbal communication and emotional regulation in therapeutic contexts. Equine-assisted therapy, with its emphasis on harnessing the innate abilities of horses, presents a clinical approach that capitalises on the principles of limbic resonance to promote emotional well-being and personal growth. In the realm of psychology, this emerging field with more research required.

For appointments or clinical supervision in equine assisted therapy please call our reception on 03 9118 2022 or book online via our website.

For books and resources such as ‘Hoofprints on how to set up an Equine Assisted Therapy clinic’ and children’s books, ‘Happy The very Sad Pony’ and ‘Trigger the Anxious Horse’ you can purchase them via or online bookshops such as Amazon and Booktopia among others.