Meadow Ridge Farm is now offering horse therapy services. Our horses are trained to provide therapeutic equine-assisted activities for children, teens, and adults. 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?
Equine therapy is a treatment that includes engaging with horses or participating in activities in an equine environment. This unique method 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. Through equine therapy, participants will build confidence, self-reliance, communication, trust, and other valuable skillsets.
History of Equine 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 in Equine Therapy?
Anyone can benefit from equine therapy! Horses are used to help a wide range of populations in a variety of settings. Unlike traditional one-on-one therapy sessions, equine therapy brings individuals outside and provides unique possibilities to use your senses while working with and handling a strong, intelligent, and social animal.
Equine therapy has 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, equine therapy can help.
What Will I Learn from Equine Therapy?
Identifying & Coping with Feelings
For those struggling with addictions, trauma, or mental health issues, it can be difficult to find ways to manage emotions. Equine therapy is 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 equine therapy 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.
Meet Crystal (a.k.a. Skippin’ Crystal Cat)
Crystal is a fully trained all around ranch chestnut paint mare with tobiano pattern and two partial blue eyes. She was born and raised in North Dakota before making her way to central Michigan. She is 9 years old and stands 14.2 hands high. Everyone who has met her loves her friendly personality, and she even smiles for treats!! Contact us if you’d like to meet her!
Grace is a 16 year old registered Paint horse. She is quite a large stocky girl, but don’t let her size fool you. She is very easy and comfortable to ride! She has been described as “like riding a rocking horse”. She is beginner safe and beginner friendly, and loves to be brushed! Stop out and meet her!