What Is 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:
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.1
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.2
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).3 It was found to motivate the learning experience and provide therapeutic benefits.
What Is Equine Therapy Used to Treat?
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 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.4