What is Equine Therapy?

What is equine therapy?

What is Equine Therapy?

Equine Therapy is experiential in nature and involves interactions with horses and patients under controlled conditions.  Equine Therapy is also known as equine assisted therapy, Horse Therapy, equine assisted learning and equine assisted psychotherapy.

This type of therapy is suitable for the development of team building skills, leadership and communication skills and can assist in reducing the effects of depression, PTSD, anxiety and stress and so can be useful both within the workplace and from a mental health viewpoint.

Team members or patients are brought to the horse yard but do not necessarily ride the horses at a series of equine therapy courses and horses assisted workshops.  Activities include feeding, grooming, haltering and controlling the horses and are carried out under the expertise of an equine therapist and / or mental health professional.

While the team member is carrying out activities with the horses, they will be observed by the mental health or equine professional.  This allows feedback on behaviour patterns in both the horse and the human and for the professional to comment on how the patient / team member is reacting to the horse.  This ongoing feedback will allow the patient / team member to respond to behaviours in the horse and amend their approach till they reach the desired outcome.

There are a myriad of skills to be learnt through Equine therapy, including but not limited to self-confidence, problem solving, self-control, patience, communication, body language and how we present ourselves to the world.  These skill building opportunities can often address underlying behavioural problems and emotional issues and can be extremely beneficial in succeeding where traditional methods have not.

What Are the Benefits of Equine Therapy?

We have come a long way since equine therapy was first used to treat polio sufferers in Scandinavia back in 1946.

Today equine therapy is recognised to be successful in assisting patients to improvement in the following areas:

  • Empathy
  • Stress Tolerance
  • Impulse Control
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Independence
  • Communication

Many of these benefits are simply due to the horses carrying out there normal behaviours however the interaction of a qualified professional to guide the process is always advised.  Horses are herd animals and will typically seek a leader to follow which makes them very adept at mirroring attitudes and behaviours of the humans with whom they are working.

There are many benefits to learning more and taking part in this process under the guidance of an equine therapist.  Equine therapy patients have a unique and effective opportunity to understand themselves and any tendency to engage in self-defeating or negative thoughts patterns and actions.

These behaviours can be interpreted by the equine therapist which will provide the basis for further discussion and learning opportunities.

What is equine therapy used for?

This type of equine therapy has been integrated into treatment programs for both adults and teens who are being treated for PTSD, depression, substance abuse, addiction, behaviour disorders, mood and eating disorders, ADD/ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, bereavement, trauma, sex addiction, compulsive gambling, bipolar and related conditions.


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