A Pioneering Study of Gene Expression and the Horse-Human Bond
The Surgeon General of the United States cites isolation as the nation’s most prevalent disease. Human health and happiness are inextricably tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community. Now more than ever community is in question. Research has shown that exclusion and isolation can harm one’s sense of wellbeing, intellectual achievement, immune function and health.
Horses know – and live – this instinctively.
This first-ever pilot study will explore belonging via the effect of herd immersion, a unique experience offered with the herd of horses at The Flag Foundation’s Flag Ranch, on its human participants as well as the horses. Will the herd immersion experience lead to measurable positive changes in the human participants, both at the psycho- logical level and the genomic level? Both the human’s and the horse’s responses will be studied.
A collaboration between Sutter Health’s CPMC Research Institute, The Institute of Noetic Sciences and The Flag Foundation for Horse/Human Partnership, this proposed study will identify molecular mechanisms mediating the effectiveness of equine-assisted activities for healthy individuals and enhance our understanding of how this therapy can be applicable in a broader health context. The work also promises to deepen our understand- ing of the healing relationship between humans and horses.
The study will be led by molecular neurobiologist Garret Yount, PhD, and depth psychologist Cary Dakin, PhD, with Co-Founder Kimberly Carlisle and the horses of Flag Ranch.
We invite your tax-deductible charitable investment to help us fund the $60,000 needed to conduct this pilot.
Contact Kimberly Carlisle
"Belonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being"
–Cary Dakin, PhD
“The very fabric of the herd is woven to ensure survival and safety, but within that individuals have full self-expression. They model for us a balanced and vibrant society.”
–Kimberly Carlisle, Co-Founder The Flag Foundation for Horse/Human Partnership
“Humans and horses share an evolutionary history that has implications for the health of both species. Like other mammals, the two species share much of the same DNA. Underlying the potential for healing, many acknowledge subtle shifts of well-being simply being in the presence of horses.”
– Garret Yount, PhD