The bond between humans and horses has always been powerful. Horses are naturally sensitive and perceptive animals, and their ability to connect to our behavior and wellness makes them ideal companions for therapy. Working in a stall, caring for an animal, and walking or even riding a horse allows participants to reconnect to nature, gain confidence, and find a sense of purpose in a fast-paced digital world.
What is Equine Therapy?
“Horse therapy” is something equestrians say we gain while engaging with horses or participating in activities in an equine environment. Being involved with equines has been proven to support physical, occupational, and emotional growth in individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, trauma, autism, dementia, and learning or behavioral challenges. Participants will build confidence, self-reliance, communication, trust, and other valuable skill sets.
History of Equine related Therapy
Dating back to ancient Greek literature where horse riding was used for healing, equine therapy continues to grow in popularity worldwide for its ability to reconnect humans to nature and its effectiveness. In the United States and Canada, it gained widespread recognition in the 1960s with the formation of the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled (CARD). Since then, horses have become a preferred therapy animal for their ability to provide instant feedback to their handler’s actions and their ability to mirror the emotions of their handler. The horse’s size and forbidding stature also compels therapy participants to gain trust around them.
Who Can Participate?
Anyone can benefit from this amazing animal! Horses are used to help a wide range of populations in a variety of settings. Unlike traditional day-to-day activities, horses bring individuals outside and provides unique possibilities to use your senses while working with and handling a strong, intelligent, and social animal.
Equine related activities have proven to be particularly effective with children and teens. Adolescents often find it difficult to communicate effectively and to address hurtful emotions or experiences in traditional therapy settings. Whether you’re dealing with trauma or anxiety or are simply seeking a restorative way to unwind and reconnect with nature, horses can help.
What Will I Learn from Horses?
Identifying & Coping with Feelings
For those struggling with addictions, trauma, or mental health issues, it can be difficult to find ways to manage emotions. Our equine partners help to create an effective way to help make sense of feelings, requiring participants to use the connection to the animal to react in the moment.
Communication & Interpersonal Skills
If you have trouble connecting or getting close to other people, equine therapy is a great way to help you learn to create and manage close bonds. Although they can’t speak, horses are fantastic communicators and can help participants gain trust, respect, and awareness.
When working with horses, one of the first things participants learn is the importance of boundaries. Whether it’s determining how much physical space a horse needs to be comfortable or understanding how attitudes affect your interactions, equine therapy makes boundaries clear and accessible.
Working with large, intimidating animals like horses help participants gain acceptance and a sense of worth as they process unmet needs, fears, traumas, and feelings of inadequacy. Although participants may be nervous at first, in time they are able to effectively process these feelings and find reassurance in their connection with the horse.
A Sense of Pride
Having responsibility for and nurturing a living being fosters an enormous sense of pride and self-worth in equestrian participants. Keeping up with daily tasks like stall maintenance and feeding not only validates an individual’s accomplishments but it also puts you in control of your life and personal duties.