Equine Therapy: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Equine Therapy: What Is It and How Does It Work?

July 27, 2023


In the past few years, there has been a growing trend of using various alternative treatments to address physical and mental health concerns. One such therapy that has been making waves in the world of healthcare is equine therapy. Interestingly, it has even been incorporated as a part of meth treatment in SD, California. 

With this growing popularity, you might wonder: What exactly is equine therapy, and how does it work? This blog post will explore equine therapy and the benefits it brings to people’s lives.

What Is Equine Therapy?

Equine therapy, a method of healing that involves interacting with horses, offers a unique and integrative approach to wellness. It is one form of animal-assisted therapy that can be used for various physical, psychological, emotional, social, and behavioral issues. Equine therapy sessions may vary depending on the individual’s needs but often include grooming, feeding, or walking the horse.

The Benefits of Equine Therapy

Equine Therapy: What Is It and How Does It Work?
Image Credit: depositphotos.com

Physical Benefits

Interacting with horses has been shown to improve balance, coordination, and motor skills in individuals with various physical disabilities. Horses have a unique way of moving their bodies that offers therapeutic benefits when humans walk and ride them.

Emotional Benefits

Equine therapy can be instrumental in helping people navigate and process complex emotions. Horses have an innate ability to mirror human emotions – when we are calm and relaxed around them, they tend to stay calm as well. This allows participants to practice emotional regulation in a supportive environment.

Social Benefits 

For those who struggle with social skills or forming connections with others due to conditions like autism or social anxiety, working with horses can be an effective way to develop these capacities. Being involved in group sessions or activities with other participants can foster communication, teamwork, and trust-building.

Cognitive Benefits 

Equine therapy uses problem-solving scenarios and exercises. These activities enhance cognitive skills like attention, focus, and memory.

Psychological Benefits

Individuals who have experienced trauma or suffer from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or PTSD may benefit from equine therapy. Horses provide unconditional acceptance, and therapy sessions are non-judgmental. This creates a safe environment for emotional exploration and healing.

How Does Equine Therapy Work?

Equine therapists are trained professionals who work closely with both the participant and the horse during therapy sessions. Here are some common features of equine therapy:

Equine Therapy: What Is It and How Does It Work?
Image Credit: depositphotos.com

The Bond Between Horse and Participant

The first step in equine therapy is establishing trust between the person and the horse. It involves gentle interactions such as touching, stroking, and observing each other’s body language. 

Non-Verbal Communication 

Horses are highly sensitive creatures that rely primarily on body language for communication. Participants in equine therapy learn to be more aware of their non-verbal cues and adapt their behavior accordingly.

Emphasis on Self-Awareness and Personal Growth

Equine therapy helps individuals become more self-aware of their emotions and behaviors by providing opportunities for introspection and reflection. Through interactions with horses, individuals are able to observe and recognize their own patterns of behavior and the impact it has on the horse.

Equine therapy offers unique and diverse benefits. While it may not be the right fit for everyone seeking rehabilitation options, it opens avenues for those seeking alternative ways to heal from trauma or addiction.

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