What makes a good therapy horse?
- Therapy horses should be at a correct weight for their body type, with strong hooves, shiny coat (when clean!), clear eyes, sweet breath, and normal excrement that indicate overall good health. Movement: The reason why therapeutic riding is so effective is because of the natural, rhythmic, and repetitive 3-dimensional movement of the horse
What is horse therapy used for?
Equine therapy, also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), is a treatment that includes equine activities and/or an equine environment in order to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in persons suffering from ADD, Anxiety, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Depression, Developmental Delay, Genetic
What is equine therapy How does it work?
Typically, equine-assisted therapy is a team effort where a mental health professional works with a horse specialist. Clients who participate in equine-assisted therapy are usually seeking help for emotional or behavioral problems. Clients work with specially trained horses and learn about caring for them.
What can I expect from a horse therapy?
In equine therapy, people talk about what they see and feel. The therapist guides the person to see the horse’s responses with an objective lens. Thus, they begin to recognize the ways in which their perceptions are accurate or misguided. They also discover the ways they may be projecting their own issues onto others.
What is therapy with horses called?
Abstract. Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input.
How does horse therapy help autism?
Horses calm riders with autism, allowing them to focus, think and accept training. The desire to ride also allows us to encourage positive behaviors and gently discourage negative behaviors.
Why is equine therapy effective?
In some cases, just a few sessions of equine therapy can produce improvement. Furthermore, equine therapy reduces anxiety and depression through physiological changes. Studies show that animal-assisted therapy reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. In addition, spending time with animals lowers blood pressure.
Is horse riding good for mental health?
Horse riding can help to lower stress, improve confidence and help mental focus and concentration. Just being outside in the fresh air, concentrating solely on your horse for a couple of hours can take your mind out of a state of worry and into relaxation, giving your soul a breather for a while.
How does equine therapy help depression?
Equine therapy also decreases negative symptoms in adolescents with depression and anxiety. In one study, participants reported feeling less depressed, and having greater psychological wellbeing, immediately after participating in equine therapy, and six months later!
Is equine therapy evidence based?
Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) has emerged as a promising, evidence-based intervention for the treatment of trauma and stressor-related disorders. This experiential therapy offers an option for clients whose traumatic experiences render traditional talk therapies ineffective.
What does equine therapy look like?
During equine-assisted therapy, the client is typically with a trained therapist, an equine specialist, and the horse. Riding isn’t necessarily involved with equine-assisted psychotherapy. Rather, the focus is on presence, attention, mindfulness, boundaries, social cues, and more.
How are therapy horses trained?
In basic training the horses learn to walk up and down steps, ride in elevators, walk on unusual floor surfaces, carefully move around hospital equipment and work in small patient rooms. They need to calmly handle unexpected sounds like ambulances, alarms and hospital helicopters… and yes, they must be house trained.
How do I start a horse therapy program?
Start an equine therapy business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Equine Therapy Business.
- Form your Equine Therapy Business into a Legal Entity.
- Register your Equine Therapy Business for Taxes.
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card.
- Set up Accounting for your Equine Therapy Business.
How does equine therapy help cerebral palsy?
Hippotherapy can help children with Cerebral Palsy on several fronts. Interacting with the animal can lift a child’s spirits emotionally and psychologically while also providing valuable physical exercise as the child learns how to ride the horse properly.
Equine Therapy as Mental Health Treatment: How It’s Used
Animals may provide a tremendous amount of emotional support to their owners. Animals are occasionally utilized in therapeutic settings to assist clients in navigating difficult emotional situations, which goes beyond the pet-owner bond that many of us have fond memories of. JR Bee / Verywell / Verywell
What Is Equine Therapy?
Equine-assisted psychotherapy is a type of treatment that integrates horses into the healing process. People participate in horse-related tasks such as grooming, feeding, and guiding a horse while under the supervision of a mental health practitioner. The objectives of this type of therapy include assisting people in the development of skills such as emotional control, self-confidence, and responsibility. When you consider that adult horses may weigh anywhere from 900 to 2,000 pounds or more, it might be a little scary to have such a massive, beautiful creature participate in your therapy sessions.
There are several words that are used to describe or allude to equine-assisted psychotherapy, including the following:
- Equine-assisted mental health
- Equine-assisted counseling
- Equine-facilitated psychotherapy
- Equine-assisted therapy
Last but not least, the term “equine-assisted therapy” can apply to a wide range of different types of treatment in which horses are utilized, such as occupational therapy.
History of Equine Therapy
Since the time of the ancient Greeks, horses have been utilized to treat a variety of medical conditions. Hippocrates, the Greek physician regarded as the “Father of Medicine,” talked about the medicinal possibilities of horseback riding in his writings. During the 1950s and 1960s, riding became more popular as a therapeutic method. A group known as the North American Riding for Handicapped Association was established in 1969. This group eventually evolved into the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International.
Who It’s For
Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a treatment option that may be employed with a wide range of people and in a wide range of therapeutic environments. In reality, horses may be utilized in therapy with people of all ages, as well as with families and groups of persons. Equine-assisted psychotherapy is frequently not employed as a stand-alone treatment modality, but rather as a complimentary therapeutic service to be used in conjunction with more traditional forms of treatment, such as psychotherapy.
Children and Teens
Equine-assisted psychotherapy may be just as helpful with children and adolescents as it is with adults, according to several studies. Children, like adults, can encounter difficulties such as trauma, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other issues. Equine therapy provides them with a therapeutic atmosphere that is less intimidating and more welcoming than a standard talk therapy facility. The bulk of the children that take part in EAP are between the ages of 6 and 18 years old, with the remainder falling somewhere in between.
Often, children find it challenging to express themselves and digest tough feelings and experiences. Equine-assisted psychotherapy allows adolescents, as well as individuals of all ages, to work on a variety of concerns, including:
- The ability to assert oneself
- Confidence in one’s abilities
- Developing and sustaining relationships
- Emotional awareness
- Impulse control
- Problem-solving skills
- Social skills
- And faith in one’s abilities Have faith in oneself
Although a variety of animals can be employed in the psychotherapeutic process, horses have a number of distinguishing characteristics that have made them a popular choice for animal-assisted therapy applications. According to Dr. Robin Zasio, an anxiety expert, horses add the following distinctive features to the therapeutic process.
Non-Judgmental and Unbiased
In spite of the fact that humans, and particularly therapists, try our best to provide a safe environment for clients to examine deep emotional traumas and difficult experiences, it can be hard for clients to openly communicate their ideas and feelings. Participants working on developing trust and practicing vulnerability in session may require some patience as they establish therapeutic rapport with the therapist. Because they will solely react to the client’s actions and feelings, having the horse there may provide a sense of security because there is no fear of prejudice or any judgment of the client’s emotional experience.
Feedback and Mirroring
Horses are skilled observers who are alert and sensitive to changes in their environment as well as to their owners’ emotions. In many cases, they mimic the behavior or feelings of a client, showing comprehension and connection that helps the client feel comfortable. The horse’s behavior and interactions provide feedback and opportunity for clients to check in and understand what is going on in the moment, which helps them retain a feeling of self-awareness.
When clients are attempting to open up about emotional issues, prior experiences, or life transitions, they may feel exposed. The horse may provide a reference point for them to utilize while processing their feelings. Clients may find it easier to process something that is too difficult to talk about if they use the horse as an example, or if they link their experiences with the horse’s experiences in the present. When you externalize the material in this fashion, it might be much easier to approach and process through the content.
The following are some other possible advantages of horse therapy: increased:
- Adaptability, distress tolerance, emotional awareness, independence, impulse control, self-esteem, social awareness, and social interactions are all important characteristics.
Horses, like humans, require effort. They need to be fed, hydrated, exercised, and groomed on a regular basis. Providing this sort of attention may be quite beneficial in many cases. It aids in the establishment of routines and structure, and the act of caring for and nurturing something else can assist in the development of empathy.
There is some evidence to support the usefulness of equine therapy in the treatment of a variety of medical disorders.
Anxiety disorders impact more than 17 million people in the United States. Despite the fact that most individuals feel some amount of anxiety at some point in their life, particularly when confronted with new or unfamiliar situations, there are occasions when people experience anxiety that fits diagnostic criteria. Anxiety-related disorders include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Individuals suffering from anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, panic disorder, separation anxiety, selective mutism, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias may be classified as having the following disorders:
Many people who suffer from anxiety find themselves trapped in a cycle of worrying about the past and fearing the future. Working with a horse throughout the therapeutic process, as Dr. Zasio points out, may provide a chance for clients to “remain present and focused on the activity at hand,” which can be beneficial. Because horses are watchful and sensitive to their surroundings and emotions, they may detect danger and respond with heightened awareness, which often results in a shift in their behavior and the possibility of attempting to flee the situation.
For some clients, processing difficulties via the behavior of a horse might be more effective than speaking directly about their own personal experiences with anxiety and depression.
Throughout the process of learning to engage with the horse and trying new activities, clients are encouraged to move outside of their comfort zone with the assistance and support of their therapist and the horse.
Over therapy, clients can then process their experience, including their anxieties and struggles, as well as any insights, discoveries, or successes that they may have had during that time period of time.
When someone suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they may have heightened alertness and reactivity, intrusive memories and nightmares, and avoidance behaviors after experiencing a terrible incident. PTSD may be devastating in its effects. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (AADA), 7.7 million persons aged 18 and older are believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD may affect anybody at any age, including children, teenagers, and adults.
The use of equine-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans is increasing.
Hassett described her work with soldiers in the following way: “Following all they’ve gone through with their PTSD and despair, many of them have expressed their surprise at being able to bond with someone and experience that personal connection once more.
The ability to carry it over into the rest of their life and into their relationships is a significant asset.”
It is well known that drug and alcohol addiction is on the increase and has become a major problem in the United States of America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70,000 persons died from a drug overdose in the United States in 2017. Many of the deaths were caused by the opioid crisis, which resulted in about 50,000 deaths as a result of opioid usage in 2015. The need for effective therapies to assist in the treatment of addiction has reached an all-time high.
It is typical for people to battle with addiction while also dealing with another mental health problem, which is referred to as a co-occurring disorder, which was previously known as a dual diagnosis.
Many times, while in addiction treatment, clients are also working hard to address injuries that have occurred in their interpersonal relationships, such as those with their family or with their spouse.
Through their interactions with the horse, EAP may assist clients in learning how to establish a feeling of trust, as they get a sense of safety and begin to form a relationship with the horse.
As they learn new things and connect with the horse, clients may feel more comfortable being vulnerable as a result of the experience.
In addition to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), equine-assisted psychotherapy can be beneficial in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those who have seen EAP say it is appealing to adults and adolescents with ADHD because it provides them with an active, enjoyable, and hands-on experience. Equestrian-assisted therapy involves the client working with a qualified therapist as well as an equine expert, as well as with the horse. Horse-assisted psychotherapy does not always include horseback riding as an element.
Kay Trotter, PhD, is a certified professional counselor, author, and the founder of Equine Partners in Counseling (EPIC) Enterprises.
Introducing horses into the therapy process, according to Trotter, resulted in dramatically enhanced positive behaviors while simultaneously decreasing negative behaviors.
It has been demonstrated that clients can benefit from equine-assisted psychotherapy in a number of ways, including the following:
- Increased self-esteem
- More self-respect
- Improved adaption to routines and rules
- Improved attention
- Less stressful friendships
- Increased self-confidence Aggression has been reduced.
For individuals who are battling with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the sense of accomplishment gained from an equine-assisted psychotherapy session can be quite beneficial. Kit Muellner, a clinical social worker with a license in the state of California, argues that “Rather than being told what to do by a parent or instructor, clients get the impression that they have accomplished something on their own time and initiative. Because you were able to concentrate, a 1,500-pound animal responds in the manner that you desire.
It is at such times that students are receiving immediate input from their horse and learning how to establish trust, communicate effectively, and work toward the achievement of a personal goal or milestone.
Equine Assisted Therapists
The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) is a non-profit organization committed to creating the standard for professionals who work with horses in a therapeutic context. It was founded in 2000. Those who aspire to become recognized and certified equine-assisted therapy professionals can take advantage of the training they provide and the unique certification procedure they have developed. In addition to EAGALA, there are additional programs that are devoted to providing adequate training and maintaining standards for individuals who interact with clients in the field of emergency assistance.
A specific style and subspecialization within the area of psychotherapy, equine-assisted therapy (EAP) is a specialty that requires therapists to pursue and acquire specialized training and certification relating to the practice of EAP.
Things to Consider
The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) is a non-profit organization committed to creating the standard for professionals who work with horses in a therapeutic context. It was founded in 2001. Those who aspire to become recognized, certified equine-assisted therapy professionals can take advantage of the training they provide and the unique certification procedure they have developed. EAGALA is one of several programs aimed to providing adequate training and maintaining standards for individuals dealing with clients in the field of emergency assistance.
A specific style and subspecialization within the area of psychotherapy, equine-assisted therapy (EAP) is a specialty that requires clinicians to pursue and acquire specialized training and certification in order to practice.
Depending on the difficulties that the client is experiencing, it may or may not be suitable to engage in EAP services. As an example, if someone is struggling with addiction, they will require adequate time to detox and establish compliance with an effective treatment program before considering the possibility of using horse-assisted therapies.
Despite the fact that equine-assisted therapy has been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, a client may be afraid of being near a huge horse and may not be motivated to participate in this sort of therapy. A painful experience associated with animals may potentially impede someone from being willing to take part in the experiment. It is critical to consult with a skilled mental health professional in order to decide whether you or a loved one may benefit from equine-assisted psychotherapy.
It is important to note that while equine-assisted psychotherapy has just lately gained popularity and recognition as an effective treatment for mental health and drug misuse, it is possible that this service may not be reimbursed by insurance. The prices for EAP services will vary depending on where you live and might be rather expensive. It is important that you contact your insurance carrier as well as your local horse therapy institution in advance to discuss the specifics of your situation.
Equine Assisted Therapy
Equine therapy, also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), is a type of treatment that incorporates equine activities and/or an equine environment in order to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in people who are suffering from conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD), anxiety, autism, cerebral palsy, dementia, developmental delay, genetic syndromes (such as Down syndrome), traumatic brain injuries, behavioral issues, abuse issues, and a variety of other mental health issues.
- Equestrian therapy can assist the individual in developing confidence, self-efficacy, communication, trust, perspective, social skills, impulse control, and the ability to set and enforce limits with horses.
- Riders with impairments display their outstanding successes in sport riding events held at the national and international levels.
- Equine therapy may be traced back to ancient Greek literature, when horses were utilized for therapeutic riding and was referred to as “therapeutic riding.” In 600 B.C., the Orbasis of ancient Lydia chronicled the therapeutic advantages of horseback riding.
- With the foundation of the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled in 1960, therapeutic riding was introduced to the United States and Canada for the very first time (CARD).
- Elephants, dolphins, dogs, and cats, among other animals, have also been utilized for therapeutic reasons in the past.
Horses are also capable of mirroring the emotions of their handlers or riders, according to research. The presence of horses, with their enormous and threatening look, causes people to build trust in their presence.
It is possible to use horses for therapeutic purposes in ways other than just riding them. In other sessions, the customer may not even come into contact with the horse at all. Sometimes the therapist in charge of conducting the session may provide goals for the client to achieve, such as bringing the horse to a specific place or placing a halter on the horse, in order to ensure that the session is successful. The client will accomplish the assignment to the best of their abilities, and then they will share the thinking process, ideas, and problem-solving techniques that they utilized to complete the task with the project manager.
- Individuals’ capacity to listen and follow directions, as well as ask questions, improves as a result of paying attention to the teacher.
- Individuals who are suffering from anxiety will find this technique particularly beneficial, since they are frequently caught up in worrying about the past or worrying about the future.
- Psychotherapists who work with horses may readily adapt Cognitive Therapy as well as play and conversation therapy to their students’ situations.
- Cognitive therapy, practicing activities, activity scheduling, play therapy, story telling, and talk therapy are some of the most common strategies employed.
- Horses are alert to danger and respond by becoming more aware of their surroundings, and they will often attempt to run if the situation appears to be too dangerous for them.
- Concentrating on the concern of the animal rather than one’s own anxiety can significantly diminish an individual’s apprehensive response while also allowing them to confront habitual ideas.
- People who are suffering from acute anxiety are more likely than others to shy away from things that are difficult, frightening, or outside of their comfort zone.
Once this is completed, the therapist will support them as required and chat with them about any ideas or feelings that have been triggered by the exercises.
Many persons suffering from anxiety will begin to avoid housework or other obligations that were previously a part of their daily routine because of the negative impact that the anxiety is having on their quality of life.
Because the physical demands of the animal or horse might alter at any time, setting a timetable to care for them throughout the day can give an individual a feeling of responsibility as well as flexibility.
Individuals may identify with many horse qualities, including the impulses of play, curiosity, independence, and social drive, via play therapy and story telling.
Telling tales to animals stimulates the development of narrative about what the animal is thinking and how it is expressing emotion.
Equine Therapy is frequently employed as a team-building activity, as well as in family and group therapy, due to the fact that horses exhibit interpersonal behavior.
It also helps the group to work together to reach a similar objective because horse therapy is generally goal-oriented, which is beneficial.
The Unique Roles of Horses in EAT
This list contains qualities of horses that make them particularly well suited for therapeutic purposes. Horses are non-judgmental and unbiased since they react exclusively to the patient’s conduct and emotions, and they are not influenced by the patient’s physical appearance or previous errors. Patients have described this as being essential to their treatment and as assisting them in increasing their self-esteem and self-confidence. Feedback and mirroring are two important aspects of any system.
- Consequently, as compared to a human therapist, their input is received sooner and is more consistently supplied.
- Patients are able to “feel felt” as a result of this.
- Equine therapy as a metaphor for real life: The capacity of a therapist to utilize the horse as a metaphor for other concerns aids in the application of equine therapy to real life problems.
- She was, on the other hand, able to provide several recommendations for how to make a horse that was being sold feel more at ease in his new surroundings.” The youngster gained a better understanding and ability to cope with her own move by using the horse as a metaphor for his own move.
Benefits of Equine Therapy for Mental Health & Substance Use
Equine therapy is a type of experiential treatment that makes use of the connection that exists between humans and horses to help them recover physically or emotionally. Depending on the needs of the client, many types of horse therapy may be employed. There are many different types of equine-related therapy and treatment available today. These are some examples:
- Hippotherapy, therapeutic riding, and equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) are all examples of equine-assisted therapies.
Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is designed to help people who are suffering from mental or drug use problems, as well as cognitive impairments and other illnesses. Even while EAP is still considered a sort of “talk” therapy, it allows clients to employ several senses while recognizing and processing emotional problems. It is the outdoor setting, as well as the employment of animals, that adds a distinct and pleasant dimension to the experience. During each session, clients may choose to ride or otherwise work with horses, while a mental health expert assists the individual in processing particular emotions that have arisen.
The use of horses in physical, occupational, and speech therapy is guided by a professional physical, occupational, or speech therapist as well as an equine specialist who are all qualified in their field of expertise.
Therapeutic Riding is classified as an Equine-Assisted Activity rather than Equine Therapy, and it has been shown to be helpful in assisting children in healing from trauma, as well as in boosting confidence and self-esteem in the general population.
What Conditions are Treated with Equine Therapy?
According to research, EAP, hippotherapy, and equine-assisted activities are effective therapeutic approaches for children, adolescents, adults, families, and groups of all ages and abilities. Following are some examples of diseases or disorders that respond well to EAP or other equine-assisted therapies:
- Suicidal ideation
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Behavior disorders
- Traumatic brain injury
- Learning disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD)
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Down syndrome
Benefits of Equine Therapy
Equine Therapy is typically used as a component of a comprehensive therapy plan, and is intended to supplement traditional treatments that are appropriate for the unique circumstance. Whenever possible, horse therapy sessions should be supervised by a licensed Equine-Assisted Therapist, who has received advanced training in equine therapy in addition to standard training in the mental health area. The relationship between the horse and the client frequently facilitates the release of previously suppressed emotions, allowing them to be processed and healed.
This gives the impression that the horse is already familiar with the past.” People benefit from EAP in a variety of ways, according to a recent paper published in Psychology Today:
- More trust
- Less worry
- Less despair and solitude
- Self-esteem, self-acceptance, and social skills are all improved as a result. more control over impulses
- Improved problem-solving capabilities
- Improved communication abilities, particularly nonverbal communication
- Improved knowledge of the need of healthy boundaries and assertiveness
- Develop the ability to go beyond of one’s own negative, self-absorbed thinking and care for another creature
Equines can be used to help youngsters with cerebral palsy, behavioral tics, motor control challenges, and coordination problems as well as persons of any age who have limited mobility. Equine Therapy has also been proven to be effective for persons suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, according to research. Individuals benefit from therapy because it helps them better regulate their emotions and learn to express sentiments in a more positive manner. Riding and caring for horses may help to enhance one’s self-esteem and anxiety, as well as to alleviate unpleasant physical concerns.
In Turning Point of Tampa, we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of clients who benefit from Equine Therapy, and we are pleased to now offer this service at a convenient off-campus location.
If you require assistance, or if you know someone who requires assistance, please contact our admissions department at 813-882-3003,800-397-3006, or [email protected].
What Is Equine Therapy and Equine-Assisted Therapy?
Spending time with animals has several benefits. The unconditional affection that pets provide, as well as the stress-relieving advantages of being around them, make them beneficial to both physical and mental health. Dogs and cats are commonly thought of being creatures that provide assistance to people. Horses may also be beneficial therapeutic companions in a variety of situations. Equine-assisted treatments are programs in which experts lead clients through activities involving horses. They are becoming increasingly popular.
Some of these initiatives are included into mental health therapy. Customers may also ride horses as part of a physical or occupational rehabilitation routine in other instances.
Equine-Assisted Therapy for Mental Health
Although a horse barn might not appear to be the most common setting for rigorous mental health treatment, it is. Still, some patients believe that equine-assisted therapy is effective in their recovery. Equine-assisted therapy is often a collaborative endeavor in which a mental health practitioner collaborates with a horse specialist. Equine-assisted therapy clients are typically looking for assistance with emotional or behavioral issues that they are experiencing. Clients work with horses that have been professionally trained and learn how to care for them.
In addition to treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and experiential therapy, working with horses is also possible.
People who participate in equine-assisted therapy programs report increased self-esteem, self-awareness, confidence, and empathy.
- Behavior problems
- Interpersonal difficulties
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Eating disorders
Therapeutic Riding Programs
Specialized riding programs are typically beneficial to those who require physical therapy or occupational therapy services. Therapeutic riding programs, like equine-assisted mental health therapy, make use of carefully trained horses in conjunction with professionals who have received professional training in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. Depending on their requirements, clients strive toward a variety of objectives. Therapeutic riding is beneficial to people of all ages and physical capacities.
Because of the physical movement involved in these sports, people can gain strength and balance while also enhancing their spatial awareness.
Individuals with a range of special needs might benefit from therapeutic horseback riding programs.
- Amputation, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, Emotional or behavioral issues, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Paralysis, and other disabilities Spina bifida, spinal cord damage, stroke, traumatic brain injury, visual and auditory problems, to name a few conditions.
Horseback riding is also a great form of exercise and is really enjoyable. Riding is a nice way to pass the time for those who have physical restrictions and are unable to participate in other leisure activities.
Equine-assisted learning (EAL) is a skill-building strategy in which individuals interact with horses to attain specific personal or professional objectives. A client will collaborate with a facilitator, who will devise a lesson plan based on the individual’s preferences. Through lessons in horse care and horse behavior observation, the facilitator will assist the participant through the process. They’ll draw parallels between how horses act and teachings on how humans behave. Specialized programs for veterans are available that include components of horse learning and equine-assisted rehabilitation into their curriculum.
Equine-assisted learning helps people improve their communication skills, emotional management, and trust.
Learning programs may be customized to meet the needs of each individual. Organizations can arrange for an equine to be used as a team-building activity or as part of a professional-development program. Equine-assisted learning can be beneficial to people of any age.
General Benefits of Riding
Therapeutic horse programs may be extremely beneficial for persons who have special needs and objectives. Working with horses appears to be beneficial for those who have both physical and emotional requirements, according to research. Therapeutic programs are available in every state in the United States. Spending time with horses may be beneficial for everyone at any age. Taking care of animals has been shown to be a stress-relieving and mood-boosting activity. Pet ownership has been shown to be connected with reduced blood pressure, better cholesterol levels, and lower triglyceride levels in studies.
Taking riding classes may lead to opportunities to socialize with other riders, which can be quite beneficial.
Riding horses is also a fantastic form of exercise.
Riding, grooming, and taking care of one’s riding equipment all contribute to the development of strength and endurance in the rider.
Equine-assisted psychotherapy, often known as equestrian therapy or horse therapy, is a sort of experiential mental health treatment in which a person in therapy interacts with horses. It is becoming increasingly popular. It has been established that horse therapy, which is appropriate for persons of all ages, may effectively treat a wide range of mental health conditions, treating both physical and psychological difficulties connected with adiagnosis. Individuals seeking assistance often engage with a psychologist who specializes in equine therapy as well as a horse trainer who is experienced with the application of horses in therapeutic settings—though both positions may be served by the same individual.
- History and development of equestrian therapy
- How may equestrian therapy be of assistance
- And other related topics. What is Equine-Assisted Therapy and how does it work? What are the limitations and concerns of Equine-Assisted Therapy?
History and Development of Equestrian Therapy
Combining equestrian activities and beliefs with the treatment of physical and mental health concerns is a concept that has been around for hundreds of years. The ancient Greeks wrote about the therapeutic advantages of horseback riding, which they referred to as hippotherapy (from the Greek hippo, meaning horse). The ideas of therapeutic riding, which had been created to cure polio and other physical difficulties, were not used for the treatment of mental health issues until the mid-1900s, when contemporary psychotherapists began to use them to address mental health concerns.
Equine-assisted therapy, hippotherapy, and therapeutic riding are all terms used by certain organizations to describe the same thing.
Riding for therapeutic purposes is oriented at those with disabilities such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome who require more physical assistance when riding in order to improve back and structural health.
All horse-assisted techniques have the potential to provide considerable mental health benefits to participants.
How Can Equestrian Therapy Help?
Horse-assisted therapy has been demonstrated to be beneficial for individuals of all ages, and horses have been included into treatment for a broad variety of ailments, including but not limited to the following:
- Brain injury
- Inattention and hyperactivity (ADHD)
- Addictions and substance misuse disorders
- Challenges relating to one’s mood
- Cerebral palsy Autism
- Having issues with learning
- Eating disorders and food-related problems
- Grief and loss
- Catastrophic events and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder
Equine therapy may address physical challenges such as behavioral tics, motor control deficits, balance, posture, and coordination–particularly in children and teenagers with cerebral palsy–by focusing on the horse’s movements. In other circumstances, training with horses aided in the improvement of cognitive abilities, the reduction of stress, the alleviation of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the treatment of depressive symptoms. Equine therapy has even been demonstrated to have a positive influence on toxic relationship patterns that have established in some persons, as well as on behaviors that endanger their health or safety, according to some studies.
An additional six months later, these beneficial benefits remained sustained.
How Does Equine-Assisted Therapy Work?
Equine therapy with the goal of resolving mental health concerns is often conducted with the assistance of a psychologist and a horse trainer, among other professionals. Full-size horses or smaller ponies are chosen to serve as therapy animals in part because of their capacity to bear a considerable lot of distraction and tolerate unexpected or erratic behavior from those who ride or groom them, among other factors. Many have been taught to engage in particularly mild and repeated behaviors in order to put others at rest and make their interactions more predictable with them.
Equine therapy begins with minimal degrees of involvement with the horse, such as caressing, grooming, and feeding, for those who are new to the profession.
Riding horses is not required for all forms of equestrian therapy, but it is usually included into the practice.
The ability of horses to replicate human moods in a nonjudgmental and spontaneous manner without any motivation or expectations is a result of their exceptional patience, perceptiveness, and sensitivity to manifestations of fear, rage, agitation, and despair.
Equine Therapy Limitations and Concerns
People who are interested in equine therapy should be informed of the hazards that the activity entails, not the least of which is the size and weight of the horses used in the therapy. Despite the fact that horses trained as therapy animals are less likely to pose a threat to riders due to fear or annoyance, their sheer size may be a source of anxiety for certain people or their parents due to their size. Some people have allergic responses to horses or their environs (barn dust or hay, for example), therefore caution should be exercised when contemplating equine therapy for these individuals.
It is possible that riding horses will impair spinal stability, making it unsuitable for people who suffer from back difficulties.
Whenever you are considering a new treatment technique, it is always a good idea to consult with your personal therapist or counselor to confirm that the approach is a suitable match for both of you. References:
- Grant, K. L., Benda, W., McGibbon, N., and McGibbon, N. (2003). Equines aided treatment is shown to improve the muscular symmetry of children who have cerebral palsy (CP) (hippotherapy). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, volume 9, number 6, pages 818-825. Cumella, E. J., and Simpson, S. (2001) retrieved from (2007). The evidence for the effectiveness of horse therapy is growing. The Remuda Ranch Center for Anorexia and Bulimia is a treatment facility for these disorders. Klontz, B. T., Bivens, A., Leinart, D., Klontz, T., Klontz, T., Klontz, T., Klontz, T. (2007). Open clinical trial results show that equine-assisted experiential therapy is beneficial in treating depression. SocietyAnimals, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 257-267. Lucchesi, E., Lucchesi, E., Lucchesi, E., Lucchesi, E. (2016, July 5). Hippotherapy is a type of therapy in which the horse does the treatment. According to the New York Times. Schultz, P. N., RemickBarlow, G., and Robbins, L. retrieved from
- Schultz, P. N., RemickBarlow, G., and Robbins, L. (2007). Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a mental health promotion and intervention method for children who have been victims of intrafamily violence (IVF). Health and Social Care in the Community, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 265-271 Therapeutic horseback riding versus hippotherapy was retrieved from. (30th of January, 2013). Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy is a therapeutic riding facility for horses. Tyler, J. L., et al., eds., retrieved from (1994). Equine psychotherapy is more than simply a good chuckle for the horse. Women’s Therapy, vol. 15, no. 3-4, pp. 139-146. The following information was obtained from: Types of equestrian therapy (n.d.) EquestrianTherapy.com. What is equine therapy, and how does it work? CRC Health (n.d.). CRC Health. This information was retrieved from Yorke et al.
- Nugent et al.
- Strand et al.
- Bolen et al.
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- Yorke et al.
- Nugent et al (2013). In this pilot study and meta-analysis, we looked at the effects of equine-assisted therapy on cortisol levels in children and horses. Early Childhood Development and Care, vol. 183, no. 7, pp. 874-894. This information was obtained from
Why Equine Assisted Therapy Works
Time allotted for reading: 4 minutes Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT) is a cutting-edge, experiential method to mental health treatment that actively engages horses in the process. Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT) is a strong, evidence-based technique that is also known as equine therapy, horse therapy, therapeutic riding, and equestrian therapy, among other names. Teens acquire confidence, trust, and the ability to establish better boundaries as a result of horse-based activities. Learning to work with and care for a horse under the supervision of an equestrian therapy professional also assists clients in practicing empathy and developing true connections with one another.
As a result, it can be particularly beneficial for teenagers who are resistive to talk therapy sessions.
History of Equine Therapy
Equine-Assisted Therapy programs today are the result of thousands of years of therapeutic practices that have used horses in their development. Horse treatment was first mentioned in the works of Hippocrates, a Greek physician who was born in 460 BCE and is considered to be the father of modern medicine. He wrote about hippotherapy, which is taken from the Greek term “hippos,” which means “horse.” In the nineteenth century, German physicians recommended horseback riding to patients suffering from hypochondria and hysteria crises.
Throughout the 1990s, inpatient rehabs and mental health programs began implementing horse programs for adolescents as a component of the therapeutic process to help them overcome their problems.
It was one of the first organizations to set professional standards for the use of horses in mental health therapy, and it continues to do so today.
How Does Equine-Assisted Therapy Work?
Teens who participate in Equine-Assisted Therapy sessions learn how to accept themselves and others by interacting with horses and working with qualified therapists. Horses provide a wide range of equine therapy advantages to those who care for and interact with them. Evidence suggests that Equine-Assisted Therapy is useful in treating teenagers who are suffering from melancholy, anxiety, and/or trauma-related symptoms, as well as those who are suffering from ADHD, autism, dissociative disorders, and other mental health illnesses, according to research.
In some circumstances, only a few sessions of horse therapy are required to see significant progress.
Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to lower cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. Additionally, spending time with animals has been shown to reduce blood pressure. This boosts the production of oxytocin, an endorphin that promotes emotions of optimism and connection, among other things.
The Horse-Human Relationship in Equine-Assisted Therapy
Horses have a special sensitivity to the emotions of other people. In addition, horses react to even the slightest changes in their surroundings. Consequently, they are capable of sensing an individual’s emotional condition, including despair and worry. As a result, the horse serves as a kind of biofeedback system for teenagers, responding to and reflecting their feelings. Furthermore, horses do not make snap judgments about teenagers based on their physical appearance or medical diagnosis. Adolescents experience acceptance and unconditional affection as a result.
Meet Levi and his group of mates.
Types of Equine Therapy
It is possible to get equine-assisted therapy for a variety of conditions, each with its own set of goals: Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP): In EAP sessions, licensed mental health practitioners collaborate with trained equine specialists to assist clients in achieving their psychotherapy treatment objectives through horseback riding. Equine-Assisted Learning Therapy (EAL) is a sort of therapy that focuses on assisting individuals in developing fundamental life skills such as communication, trust, respect, self-awareness, and honesty via interaction with horses.
The Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy
The benefits of equine-assisted therapy for teenagers are numerous. According to research, the following are some of the advantages of horse therapy:
Greater Confidence and Self-Esteem
Teens learn to acquire the skills of working with horses while undergoing rehabilitation. The result is that they have increased confidence in their ability to take on new projects. Furthermore, their motivation to take on additional recovery-related challenges grows.
Better Communication Skills
Equine-Assisted Therapy teaches teenagers the value of nonverbal communication via the use of horses. As a result of the horse’s reaction to their mood, they have a better understanding of how their own emotions and nonverbal cues impact others around them.
Given that horses react promptly to their behaviors, teenagers learn to manage and adjust their own behavior with horses. As a result, individuals get greater self-awareness and self-control.
Sense of Trust
Teens who have endured trauma, abuse, or abandonment may find that learning to trust the horse may help them heal from their experiences.
More Realistic Self-Image
Teens gain a more realistic perspective of themselves when they interact with horses, which is a much larger species than themselves. As a result, youth who have been diagnosed with eating problems may benefit from horse therapy.
Ability to Focus on Others
The task of grooming and caring for a horse allows teenagers to divert their attention away from their personal difficulties. Instead of engaging in unproductive ruminating, they concentrate their attention to the present moment and the needs of others.
Stronger Social Skills
A healthy relationship with a horse helps an adolescent improve his or her social abilities.
As a result, they are able to establish and strengthen relationships with others.
Feelings of Connection
Teens who are dealing with mental health issues or substance misuse frequently feel alone and isolated from their peers. Because of a horse’s unconditional acceptance, they are able to experience a feeling of connection to other living creatures as well as to the rest of the world. Equine therapy therefore aids in the formation of healthy connections with oneself, other people, and our animal companions. Sources: Clinical Child Psychiatry and Psychiatry, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 16–33; Front Psychol, vol.
- 1, pp.
- 22, no.
- 16–33; Front Psychol, vol.
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Benefits of Equine Therapy: 5 Lessons Only a Horse Teaches
Since the beginning of time, humans have been drawn to horses and have sought meaningful ties with them. Riding horses may be an amazing experience, but there is something even more deep about the experience. Many mental health specialists recognize the advantages of horse therapy, which is why they promote it. “There are remarkable parallels between horses and people,” says Dede Beasley, M.Ed., LPC, an equine therapist at The Ranch who grew up riding horses. “There are striking parallels between horses and people,” she adds.
- “Horses, like people, are social organisms whose herd dynamics are strikingly comparable to the dynamics of the family system.” Equine therapy is used at The Ranch’s rehabilitation center in Tennessee to help people experience transformation in a more hands-on way.
- Horse therapy has helped many people who have struggled to make progress or fulfill their treatment objectives to make great strides forward in their recovery.
- Stress is relieved, as are the symptoms of anxiety and sadness.
- In addition, equine therapy can benefit those who are battling with addictions or mental illnesses.
- This is the most significant advantage of employing horse therapy with those who are suffering from mental illness or addiction.
Equine Therapy Lesson1: Identifying and Coping with Feelings
Addiction, trauma, and other mental health difficulties are all common problems for people who don’t know how to deal with their emotions. They may turn to drugs in an attempt to numb their feelings of despair, anger, fear, or even happiness. One of the most important elements in achieving success in treatment is for the patient to learn to recognize, feel, and cope with their emotions. Equine therapy is a strong tool for getting in touch with one’s emotions and ideas. When it comes to horse therapy, you don’t have to use your brain to solve difficulties.
To experience and react in the moment, you must instead rely on your physical body and emotional state.
If you are agitated or hostile, the horse may become stubborn and refuse to move.
The horse, on the other hand, is more likely to respond positively when addressed by someone who is open and relaxed. Observing the horse’s behavior can help humans become more self-aware and perceive themselves in a more realistic light, which can be beneficial.
Equine Therapy Lesson2: CommunicationInterpersonal Skills
Emotionally immature persons are common among those suffering from addictions and mental health problems. It is possible that they will have trouble relating to or becoming close to other individuals. Despite this, they are able to form strong ties with horses. People learn to identify their own habits of dealing with others as a result of their work with horses. Horses are not able to communicate verbally, yet they are exceptional communicators. Understanding horse behavior can assist individuals in understanding how their own conduct affects those around them.
Exercises as simple as haltering, leading, and grooming teach humans how to approach others with courtesy and awareness of their surroundings.
The therapist takes the individual through the process of viewing the horse’s behaviors through an objective perspective.
They also learn about the ways in which they could be projecting their own problems onto others.
Equine Therapy Lesson3: Setting Boundaries
Working with horses may bring a person’s maladaptive thought and behavior patterns to the surface. A client’s relationship with the horse and the patterns in their own life are compared and contrasted by Beasley during an equine therapy session with the animal. She takes advantage of every chance to address issues such as enmeshment and separation within their family. Lessons might be as easy as determining how much physical space the horse requires in order to be comfortable. Horses are quite obvious when someone has breached their limits, and they do so without saying anything.
A distant or passive attitude, on the other hand, might make it difficult to guide a horse forward.
Equine Therapy Lesson4: Overcoming Fears
Horses are huge, powerful creatures. Their size and strength might elicit unfulfilled needs, concerns, and memories of prior trauma, as well as emotions of inadequacy and powerlessness. According to Beasley, many individuals are concerned that the horse would not like them. They are also concerned that the horse may physically or emotionally harm them. People learn to accept and process their emotions rather than succumbing to their natural impulse — to flee or become defensive. “When I work with horses, I have the impression that I am seeing grace.
- In the words of the author, “These exceptional creatures allow humans to bring all types of concerns into the horse’s world and accept them for who they are — flaws and all.” Clients learn to confront their concerns in a supportive setting.
- Many individuals are scared and apprehensive when they first meet someone new.
- People may gain confidence as a result of their experience and be able to confront their other concerns.
- It is not necessary for clients at The Ranch to be horse enthusiasts or to have previous experience dealing with animals in order to benefit from equine therapy, explains Beasley.
“All they have to do now is be willing to give therapy a chance and to proceed in a different way than they have in the past,” says the doctor.
Equine Therapy Lesson5: Trust
Horses are calming and peaceful animals to be around. They are honest and clear in their dealings, and they do not lie or manipulate. They do not pass judgment or assign blame. Their very presence has the potential to be restorative. Beasley recalls a client who had been subjected to horrendous childhood abuse in her family. So, instead of creating an organized horse therapy session, she just let the client to sit in the paddock with her horse. When the customer returned after an hour or so, he was obviously affected and exclaimed, “I’ve never had someone that huge be polite to me before.” According to Beasley, this event resulted in the creation of a “alternative memory” for the client.
She now had firsthand knowledge that demonstrated to her that she could once again put her confidence in others.
She has been counseling people for 30 years, 15 of which have involved horse therapy, and Beasley maintains that she continues to learn something new on a daily basis.
Other Benefits of Equine Therapy
These five lessons are only a few instances of the transformation that may occur as a result of horse therapy. Other advantages of horse therapy include the following:
- Learning to accept responsibility, caring for oneself and others, patience, humility, a sense of pride, and an appreciation for the basic pleasures in life are all important life lessons.
Even more important in equine therapy is the horse’s raw, yet impossible-to-define “magic,” which is tough to quantify. In Tennessee, there are few sites that are better suited for horse therapy than The Ranch. Patients at The Ranch are required to engage in an equine-assisted psychotherapy group at least once a week in order to get treatment. They also get the opportunity to participate in a one-on-one therapeutic horseback riding class as well as recreational horseback riding on the 2,000-acre working ranch’s wide pastures and grazing lands.
“If you enjoy animals and the outdoors, you’ll find yourself in excellent company here,” says the host.