Horse therapy is a specific type of therapy that harnesses the positive energy that develops through the human-to-equine bond.Also commonly referred to as equine-assisted therapy, this type of rehabilitation technique leads to desirable changes in individuals suffering from a variety of personal and psychological issues.Designed to help people find a way to overcome or live with the problems that they are currently dealing with on a regular basis, this therapeutic approach often succeeds when traditional methods do not.
What Is Horse or Equine-Assisted Therapy?
Equine-assisted treatments provide an experiential setting in which individuals who are suffering from various disorders or dealing with emotional issues can obtain relief, while learning basic skills that can help them to cope with their lives. A collaborative approach is at the center of this type of therapy, which draws upon the positive nature of human-to-horse interactions in order to encourage psychological, physical, and emotional healing.
Horses enjoy social interactions, which is one of the reasons behind this particular mode of therapeutic treatment. A symbiotic relationship based in mutual respect develops between the horses and their humans counterparts through scheduled activities involving grooming, feeding, riding and horsemanship. The physical maintenance and personality of the horse also play a role in the therapeutic experience.
The Benefits of Horse Therapy
The goal of horse therapy is to enable participants to learn useful strategies through a nurturing relationship that can assist them in leading a fuller, healthier, and happier lifestyle. People who undergo horse therapy typically develop affirmative bonding with their equine partner, enabling them to experience emotional, psychological, and physical healing that can include one or more of the following changes:
- Growth in confidence and self-esteem
- Enhanced self-reflection and new insight into their own capabilities
- Alleviation of depression
- Improved interpersonal (social) skills
- Modification of unwanted behaviors
Who Can Benefit from This Therapeutic Treatment?
People suffering from various disorders and emotional issues can benefit greatly from the use of horse therapy. It can be used to treat each of the following types of problems:
- Low self-esteem
- Psychological issues
- Physical problems
- Learning disorders
- Speech impediments
- Lack of confidence
- Behavioral problems
- Interpersonal issues
The Growing Resource That Horse Therapy Is Becoming
Each animal that is used during horse therapy undergoes specialized training and has been properly assessed for safety reasons. As a result, the horses are familiar with the expectations of this type of therapy, which is held in a peaceful learning environment, leading to safe interactions that are beneficial for both the participants and the horses.More and more people are getting educational degrees in the area of equine assisted therapy and more colleges offer this track of instruction. As more people learn and fall in love with this type of therapy, more companies and facilities offer this as a therapy option as well.
Two of our favorites are PATH International nonprofit association and Eagala. PATH helps children and adults by offering programs for veterans and active-duty military personnel with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges. They believe in helping people find strength and independence through the power of a relationship with a horse. Find out more about what their mission and purpose by visiting their website pathintl.org. Eagala is the leading international nonprofit association for professionals using equine therapy to address mental health and human development needs. They strive to make equine therapy available to every person in the world. Find out more about this wonderful organization on their website, www.eagala.org.
Caring for another being (in this case, a horse) offers an opportunity for people to discover their own capabilities, resilience, nurturing abilities, and confidence. Primary goals are determined through the collaborative efforts of the participant, his therapist, caregivers, and instructors. The end goal is to improve the individual's quality of life in as many ways as possible, but particularly in the intended area for improvement. Along the way to this path of healing, participants continually discover new aspects of their life, enabling them to grow in positive ways that eventually enhance their lifestyles and make them stronger emotionally and psychologically.
Horse therapy is a growing industry, and is changing people’s lives every day. Learn more about how equine therapy could benefit you or someone you love.