Equine Therapy

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Equine Therapy

What Is Equine Therapy?

Equine therapy involves the use of horses to help treat mental, emotional, and physical issues.

Equine Therapy

Many therapies can be used in addiction recovery. Some are traditional, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy. Others are unconventional and include alternative methodologies. One therapy that’s commonly used is equine therapy. It involves working with horses to overcome physical and mental issues. Read on to find out more about what’s involved.

Equine Therapy Definition

Equine therapy is a treatment method that focuses on the connection between people and horses. There are a few types of equine therapy available, including equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP), hippotherapy, and therapeutic riding.

Who Is Equine Therapy For?

Equine therapy treats people that are dealing with a variety of mental disorders, including:

It can also be used to treat physical conditions like spasticity and limited mobility.

Equine Therapy Statistics

A review of thirty-one studies with six hundred one participants was reviewed to determine the benefits equine therapy provides. It was found to be beneficial to twenty-six different disorders. In addition, the connection between the patient and horse was shown to boost self-esteem as well as mobility.

Equine Therapy History

Equine therapy dates back to ancient Greece. It was first documented around 460 BC when the Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Medicine,” wrote about its therapeutic potential.

However, it did not become popular with the masses until the mid-1900s. It was introduced in Scandinavia after an outbreak of poliomyelitis in 1949 and eventually caught on in the United States and Canada in 1960 with the formation of the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled (CARD). It was found to motivate the learning experience and provide therapeutic benefits.

What Is Equine Therapy Used to Treat?

Therapeutic horseback riding and equine therapy can be used to treat a variety of disorders. These include the following:

Equine Therapy for Addiction

Equine therapy promotes a non-judgmental and unbiased environment that makes people dealing with dependency issues feel more comfortable communicating about their addiction. The horses offer a calming presence that relieves stress. Additionally, the sense of accomplishment in controlling the horse increases the patient’s self-esteem, making them less likely to turn to substances.

Equine Therapy for Anxiety

Horses provide soothing energy that reduces feelings of anxiety. The animal conveys a sense of understanding and connection, so clients feel safe and calm.

Equine Therapy for PTSD

People with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience difficulty managing their anxiety due to stressful situations that occurred in their past. Horses promote feelings of calmness, while riding and grooming activities allow the patient to focus on something other than traumatic events.

Equine Therapy for Depression

People who are depressed often become withdrawn and have difficulty connecting with society. The horse’s non-judgmental presence makes it easy to forge a connection. This is accompanied by a fun activity that takes a person’s mind off depressing thoughts.

Equine Therapy for Autism

Individuals with autism are likely to have difficulty in social situations. A horse provides a sense of understanding that makes it easy for patients to open up. Learning to ride may also help with overcoming mental impairments.

Types of Equine Therapy

Several types of equine therapy can be used in an equine therapy program. These include the following:

Therapeutic Horseback Riding

This type of equine therapy helps children and adults recover from trauma. It also promotes feelings of self-esteem and confidence.


Hippotherapy helps treat neuromuscular and speech disorders by improving balance and coordination. Patients are made to sit on or ride the horse to improve muscular control.

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)

EAP focuses on substance abuse and mental disorders. The patient will engage in several horse-related activities, including care, grooming, and riding, while a mental health professional helps them process their emotions.

Benefits of Equine Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy and therapeutic horseback riding come with their share of benefits. Here are some benefits of equine therapy to consider:

Non-Judgmental and Unbiased

Horses provide a non-judgmental, unbiased atmosphere that makes people feel comfortable handling their emotions.

Feedback and Mirroring

Horses are good observers that are sensitive to emotion. Therefore, they can mirror the patient’s emotions to convey a sense of connection and understanding.

Overcoming Fears

Fear is often a part of mental disorders. For example, riding a horse can be a scary thing; however, patients who can overcome that fear will feel more confident, boosting their ability to deal with other frightening situations.

Building Trust

The patient forms a trusting bond with the horse that can carry on into other relationships.

Better Communication Skills

A patient must communicate with a horse during equine therapy. This boosts their communication skills in other situations.

Greater Confidence and Self-Esteem

Learning to ride and care for a horse is not easy. As patients learn how to ride and take care of a horse, it will increase feelings of confidence and self-esteem.
Garrett Braukman

Garrett Braukman


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