Now we’re sure you’ve heard of therapy dogs, but have you ever considered the possibility of a therapy horse? We’re here to tell you why horses could be the ideal therapy treatment that you may be looking for.
What is Equine-assisted Psychotherapy?
Equine-assisted psychotherapy is a therapeutic process using horses as the main tool. Developing skills such as responsibility, empathy, self-awareness, self-confidence, and emotional regulation.
Beneficial activities include tasks such as observing, grooming, feeding, groundwork and leading a horse to complete a structured exercise. All while being supervised by a mental health care professional.
This kind of therapy offers a special non-verbal opportunity to enhance one’s mental health, social skills, perception, and judgment, as well as many other factors.
It is an alternative to traditional talk therapy and will have you outdoors in the fresh air rather than sitting in a small office.
Being able to interact with a beautiful animal takes the pressure off focusing on yourself. This eases the tension, and most people find it easier to talk with a horse, rather than another person as horses are unbiased and non-judgmental.
Who is Equine-assisted Psychotherapy for?
Equine therapy is suitable for anyone of any age. It is used to help people suffering from metal health difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, trauma, eating disorders, addiction, Alzheimer’s and even dementia. As well as children who have been bullied.
Horses are naturally sensitive to human emotion and behaviour. They are intuitive in a way humans aren’t. You must be very mindful and present around horses and behave in a certain way to connect with them.
Horses have a mirroring effect, so if a person is anxious, the horse will be too. This applies to any major emotion or behaviour and that is why horses work so well as a therapy tool.
People will see their own behaviour and emotions reflected at them, and to calm the horse, they must find a way to calm themselves. If a horse is exposed to a sense of danger, they will try and get away. This will force the person trying to connect with them to have to react differently and to alter their approach if they are wanting a different result.
Working with a horse in this way, will teach people important social cues, by working with an animal that is very responsive to social gestures and emotions.
Horses need to be cared for, they require structure and routine and need to be fed, groomed, watered, and exercised. By taking on these responsibilities it allows empathy to develop.
Is Equine-assisted psychotherapy right for you?
If you have read this blog and think these techniques may prove beneficial to yourself or your loved one, then absolutely give it a go. If you are comfortable working with a large animal and are ready to make a difference in your life. Then Equine therapy may be for you.
However, if you have any major medical concerns, we recommend seeking medical advice with your care provider beforehand, to see if this treatment can work for you.
Equine therapy should be used in addition to other therapeutic methods to receive the best well-rounded and overall treatment necessary.