What Is Equine Therapy?

It’s no secret that animals have the power to offer us humans copious amounts of love, happiness, and companionship, but did you also know that there are some animals that have the added power of being able to help us navigate and process emotional challenges?

Known for their devotion to their owners, strong wills, and ability to display a variety of different emotions, the horse is a beloved animal all over the world.

What Is Equine Therapy?

But, far beyond the bond that can be formed between horses and humans, these majestic animals can also be used for therapeutic purposes.

Otherwise referred to as equine-assisted therapy, equine therapy is a type of therapy that consists of using horses to help people process and deal with mental and physical trauma, problems, and more.

In this article, we take a closer look at what equine therapy is, who it is for, as well as the benefits. Read on.

What Is Equine Therapy?

Before we get any further, we first think that it would be a good idea to uncover what it is that equine therapy is, exactly.

Essentially, equine therapy is a type of psychotherapy that utilizes the presence of horses in a therapeutic session.

During these equine therapy sessions, horses will engage in a variety of different activities with the person participating in the therapy session, including walking with the horse, grooming the horse, feeding the horse, and even sometimes riding it. 

In addition to the horse and the person who is participating in the equine therapy session, it is also worth noting that for the duration of these sessions, a therapist will be there to guide the session and ensure the participant is comfortable.

The main goal of equine therapy and these types of activities that are typically associated with this type of therapy is to encourage people to gain feelings of confidence, calmness, and the ability to regulate emotions more efficiently than before.

In recent times, equine therapy has become increasingly more popular, with many people stating that it is extremely beneficial to navigating difficult emotional trauma. 

What Are The Benefits Of Equine Therapy?

When done correctly, equine therapy can offer a variety of different benefits that can help people to navigate and process emotional challenges in a productive way.

What Are The Benefits Of Equine Therapy?

Here are some benefits that are typically associated with equine therapy:

  • Self-confidence: One of the biggest benefits that people can expect to gain from starting equine therapy sessions is an increased sense of self-confidence and autonomy achieved through the various activities during the session.
  • Empathy: Spending time with an animal such as a horse is a surefire way to experience increased levels of empathy, and this is typically achieved through grooming and walking sessions with the horse.
  • Emotional and self-awareness: Additionally, during equine therapy sessions, the therapist supervising will typically encourage an increased level of emotional and self-awareness in the patient by allowing the patient to spend quiet time with the horse, which will allow for self-reflection and introspective thinking. 
  • Impulse control: Another benefit associated with equine therapy is impulse control, which can help to increase self-discipline and healthy coping mechanisms within the patient. 
  • The ability to maintain relationships: Through the various activities that will take place during an equine therapy session (including grooming, walking and sometimes even riding) patients will have the ability to foster and maintain a relationship with the horse, which will benefit them in other areas of their lives. 
  • Trust in self and others: Last but certainly not least, the final main benefit that you can expect from equine therapy is an increased sense of trust, both in self, as well as in others. 

Who Can Benefit From Equine Therapy?

Even though equine therapy is a type of therapy that is still relatively new, there is growing evidence to suggest that equine therapy can offer a variety of benefits to the following conditions:

  • Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders affect millions of people around the world, and equine therapy has been shown to be effective in helping to treat them. This is because horses are naturally anxious animals and have heightened senses, and patients will have the ability to help work through their own personal experiences by helping their assigned horse. 
  • PTSD: The second condition that has shown to respond well to equine therapy is those who suffer from PTSD. This is because the calming and relaxing atmosphere of an equine therapy session provides PTSD sufferers with a non-invasive way to help process and handle their emotional trauma, unlike being sat in an office.
  • Substance Abuse: Last but not least, the last main condition that has shown to be very effective at being treated via equine therapy is substance abuse. As we have already mentioned, equine therapy can help to instill impulse control and healthy coping mechanisms within those who participate, and this can help in the recovery process of those who are healing from substance abuse. 

The Bottom Line

To sum up, everything that we have mentioned above, equine therapy is a horse-assisted form of therapy that was first recorded during the time of Ancient Greece.

Although, it is a therapy that is becoming increasingly and more popular in recent times along with other types of animal-involved therapy modalities.

To follow on, it can be used for treating a variety of different conditions but has shown particular effectiveness in treating conditions such as anxiety disorders, PTSD, and those recovering from substance abuse. 

Many therapists and patients alike agree that equine therapy offers a far more relaxed and non-evasive experience than a traditional therapy session in an office, and can help to encourage people to deal with emotional challenges and trauma by instilling confidence, empathy, emotional awareness, and the ability to maintain relationships.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this article, we hope that you now have a much better understanding of equine therapy, what it offers and who can benefit from it.

Anna Granger
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