Equine Therapy Defined…
I’ve often said there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse. – Ronald Reagan
Equine therapy utilizes horses to promote behavioral and emotional growth amongst those receiving therapy. Equine therapy is used to treat ADHD, PTSD, autism, anxiety, depression, and many other mental health issues. Because horses have similar emotional and social behaviors to humans, patients easily connect with horses.
Equine therapy creates a relationship between patient and horse, which is what begins the healing process. Working with horses can improve communication skills within patients. During equine therapy, patients are required to bond with their horses because horses do not trust people they do not know. Oftentimes in equine therapy, patients learn how to take care of their horses; how to clean them, feed them and groom them.
Equine Therapy and Trails Carolina
Trails Carolina is one of just a few wilderness therapy programs that uses equine therapy in order to get students to see how they are affecting the relationships in their lives. The horses give them the tools to begin developing healthy techniques to build relationships. The communication skills needed to connect with horses can be used during the wilderness therapy program, as well as with family, friends and other peers.
In a 2003 study looking at the effects of equine therapy in people with severe and persistent psychiatric abilities, researchers found that patients had a better self image after participating in equine therapy for an extended period of time.
In a 2015 Queen’s University study, at-risk youth between the ages of 11 and 18 were invited a farm to take part in a four-day summer-camp-style program during which they were given instruction on how to interact with horses. All activities at the program were geared toward understanding how to get the horse to do what the participants wanted it to do—and to understanding how the horse influenced them. After this program, all participants noted a change in their communication with peers, family, and friends.
A New York Times article described a facility in New York helping troubled adolescents learn communication skills through equine therapy. These adolescents were born into poverty, some addicted to drugs at birth. With equine therapy, these young people are learning to be productive, healthy members of society.