Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy

Posted On Monday, 09 April 2018
Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy

Horses are majestic creatures.

Just being around them is enough to give you a sense of peaceful relaxation. Those who own horses glean the stress-reducing benefits that come along with caring for these animals.

And now, even people who don’t own horses can experience therapeutic benefits through Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAP).

What is Equine-Assisted Therapy?

EAP combines the use of horses, a horse specialist and a licensed therapist to address a patient’s treatment goals. Through this therapy, patients care for and participate in activities with the horses, and then they discuss their feelings and behaviors with their therapist. You might be surprised by this, but people undergoing EAP do not ride.

EAP is considered a short-term approach, because people experience its effects immediately. You only have to spend a few minutes caring for a horse to realize its healing properties.

Equine therapy is even helpful for people who are afraid of horses. If you’ve never seen one up close, their size can be intimidating. Working with a horse gives patients the opportunity to overcome fears and develop a stronger sense of confidence.

Horse therapy teaches trust, boundaries, patience, affection, effective communication, self-awareness and so much more. Truly, anyone could benefit from equine therapy, but there are certain groups of people who may get a little more out of the experience.

Who Benefits from EAP?

EAP seems to be beneficial for people of all ages and with varying disorders. Some of the common challenges treated with EAP include behavioral issues, anger management, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), substance abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and autism.

Benefits of EAP for Depression

One of the ways EAP helps treat depression is that it happens outside. Not only do the horses have therapeutic qualities, but being among nature can help lift anyone’s spirits.

Most people know about the therapeutic benefits of dogs and other small pets, but horses have a unique advantage in therapy. They are gentle yet powerful creatures, so it’s important to pay attention and be present in the moment when you’re around them. There’s no time for your mind to wander to dangerous and unproductive places. It’s just you and the horse. For people with anxiety and depression, these moments are rare and precious.

Horses also provide immediate feedback to their caregivers. They’ll not only respond to your actions, but they’ll also respond to your body language and mood. In a traditional therapy session, there’s not much the therapist can do if you’re intent on putting up a wall. You don’t have the luxury of moodiness with a horse. If you don’t approach the horse with the right attitude, you may not get the results you’re seeking.

This can help people suffering from a wide array of mental illnesses become more aware of what they’re projecting to the world.

How EAP Helps People with Substance Abuse Disorders

In addition to all the benefits mentioned above, equine therapy helps people struggling from substance abuse disorders by teaching them how to form healthy relationships. In addiction treatment, people need to relearn social skills and how to connect with others in the absence of alcohol or drugs.

A horse provides a way for people to practice connecting with someone, and in this case, they don’t have to worry about being judged for their past. The relationship between a horse and someone in recovery gives the patient confidence that they can overcome social stigmas and once again form healthy relationships.

Equine therapy has many benefits for various end uses. If you’re interested in learning more, contact the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH International).

Trevor McDonald

Trevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who has been clean and sober for over five years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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