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What Is 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.
Equine Therapy - greater confidence and self-esteem

Alta Centers Can Help

There are several centers that offer alternative therapies, including equine therapy, but it can be hard to find the one that’s the right fit. Instead of spending hours of research to find the perfect facility, save time by calling Alta Centers first.

Dedicated to Lasting Recovery

Alta Centers is an inpatient rehab center located in sunny Los Angeles, CA. We understand each patient is unique and requires their own personalized treatment program, so our highly trained professionals create customized programs that include various therapy options. We offer contingency management intervention, family therapy, breathwork, meditation, and more.

We integrate a dual diagnosis approach, simultaneously treating the addiction and its underlying cause. We believe this is the best strategy for long-term success. In addition, we follow up with aftercare to ensure our patients have the support they need to maintain sobriety after they graduate from our program.

Overcoming addiction is not easy and often requires a variety of therapies to recover successfully. Contact Alta Centers today to receive the best care and personalized treatment. We provide guidance every step of the way, so each individual has a chance at a happier and healthier life.

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.

What is an Intervention?

In a situation involving substance use disorder, planning an intervention may be the best, and safest, option to help someone who is living with an addiction. So, what does intervention mean? An intervention is a strategically planned process of confronting the person who is living with addiction about the consequences of their actions while simultaneously encouraging them to accept help and treatment for their addiction.1

The key feature of an intercession is that while it can be an immensely helpful option in convincing a person that they should seek treatment, it should not be done solely by friends and family members. Without the aid of a specialist, or someone who is equally trained in the process of interventions, an intervention may do more harm than good.

An intervention specialist is someone that has been professionally trained in helping people break free from their addictions. They can help a person without judgment, emotions, or blame to understand how their actions are negatively impacting themselves and those that they care about.

When performed properly, without judgment or pressure, and with the aid of a qualified intercession specialist, 80-90% of substance use interventions are successful in convincing the patient to seek help.

Early Intervention

Treatment is more effective the earlier that it begins for an alcohol or drug abuse disorder. As with any other health condition, early intervention and treatment can prevent more significant problems further on in life.

Unfortunately, in many cases, an alcohol addiction intervention or a drug abuse intercession does not take place until most other options have been exhausted. It can be difficult for those struggling with a substance use disorder to realize or admit that they need help.

It often takes a life-altering event, such as a divorce, loss of employment, or a housing crisis for a person to be willing to seek treatment. Because early
alcohol and drug intercession can be so beneficial, first responders must be able to recognize the symptoms of substance abuse.3

What is a Nursing Intervention?

Nursing interventions are often the first time a patient will experience care for their disorder. It takes place when someone enters a care facility such as a clinic or hospital for a condition that may or may not be caused or exacerbated by their substance use disorder.

After initial evaluation and stabilization, a nurse will take action to help their patient by suggesting healthy physical or emotional coping mechanisms for a patient that wants to quit using the substance that they are addicted to. The nurse will also be able to offer education and information to the patient about other treatment facilities or care providers that can help them on their road to recovery.

Alcohol Intervention

A Further Look at Interventions

Nearly 50% of adults in America regularly drink alcohol, and it is believed that as many as 25% of those Americans have an alcohol addiction, most commonly in the form of binge drinking. In many situations, once a person with an alcohol use disorder realizes the way that alcohol is negatively impacting their life, they can reduce the amount that they drink, or even quit entirely, without outside assistance.

However, some people that have an alcohol use disorder are unable to see how their addiction is negatively affecting them. In this situation, an alcohol use intercession can be extremely beneficial. Some of the benefits of interventions include:

Drug Intervention

A Further Look at Interventions

Over nineteen million adults struggle with a drug abuse disorder and of those, nearly 74% also struggle with a co-existing alcohol abuse disorder. Drug abuse and addiction can be a much harder disorder to recover from than alcohol addiction, particularly due to the high rate of co-use that most people with a substance use disorder experience.

In many cases, suddenly stopping the use of an illicit substance can be just as harmful, if not more so than using the substance itself. The side effects and withdrawal symptoms that a person may experience when they decide to stop using a substance can be severe and at times life-threatening.

Luckily, substance use is a highly treatable disorder and several medications can help a person wean off of illicit substances in a safe, sustained, and monitored manner. A drug abuse intervention can help someone realize that they have options and that they can recover safely and healthily.

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.