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Akim Safonov
Akim Safonov

How Does Equine Therapy Work


The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, was conducted by Drs. Yuval Neria and Prudence Fisher, principal investigators of the Man O' War Project at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. The project is the first university-led study to evaluate equine-assisted therapy in treating veterans with PTSD and develop a manual for the protocol to guide others in the field.




How Does Equine Therapy Work



Therapeutic Riding (TR) or Therapeutic Horseback Riding (THBR) (N = 219) requires a certified therapeutic riding instructor with incorporation of grooming and caring for the horse. Instructor certification includes safety, competency validation, educational instruction, equine care/training and working with disabilities (PATH, 2016a).


Equine therapy is a lesser-known, but greatly beneficial, therapy modality with a particular focus on mindfulness, physical and mental health and wellness. The relaxing, therapeutic setting of equine therapy provides a venue for individuals to reflect and care for themselves and their horses.


Equine therapy is more than just grooming or riding horses. Mental health professionals and equine specialists team up to facilitate activities between the client and their horse that serve as the basis for equine therapy. The client will first meet all of the horses at the stable and choose the one they feel the strongest connection with. They will then gradually build trust with their horse. Equine therapy activities often include:


A major tenet of equine therapy is giving agency and responsibility to the individual caring for their horse. On a basic, fundamental level, the activities in equine therapy are meant to teach the client how to control their horse while improving sensory skills, motor skills, coordination, balance and posture. The spirit of equine therapy, though, has significant positive mental and emotional health implications. Working closely and forming a relationship with horses can help build self-confidence, facilitate independence, teach accountability, improve self-respect and self-esteem and process emotions in a healthy way. An added bonus of equine therapy is that it can remain a lifelong hobby for the client after they have completed their treatment.


Equine therapy is perhaps most commonly utilized in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. Addiction specialists have found that the responsibility of caring for a horse can be effective in promoting confidence, independence, self-awareness, healthy coping tools, trust and responsibility in individuals in recovery. Within the context of treating addiction, equine therapy is often used in conjunction with more traditional therapy modalities like psychotherapy, and it is this combination that helps treat the whole person.


Silver Ridge Recovery takes a holistic approach to mental health, promoting a mind, body and spirit perspective when nourishing mental health and wellness. Reach out today at 855-945-7788 if you are interested in trying equine therapy.


Therapeutic riding is a great way to see remarkable changes in social work clients. Many social workers are now looking to alternative methods to assist our clients. One remarkable program that is yielding phenomenal results is therapeutic horseback riding. Research shows this form of therapy works wonders with almost every social work population: children, teens, juvenile delinquents, physically challenged, developmentally delayed, blind, deaf, and all forms of abuse. The explanation for the success rate is simple. A special bond is formed between a child and a horse. Children who have not progressed in a conventional therapeutic setting often excel with therapeutic riding. Children will tell a horse things they would never tell a therapist. A child will share secrets, thoughts, failures, setbacks, wishes, dreams, and goals with a horse. And the horse will never tell. Children know this and, therefore, open up more with horses than with parents, teachers, friends, pastors, and conventional therapists. Children will attempt different physical challenges because they feel the support of the horse underneath them.


Social work practitioners should seriously consider animal assisted therapy as a viable intervention when working with any type of population at risk. Many educators and health care professionals have already taken the concept of therapeutic riding and put it into practice (Bland, 1987; Crothers, 1994; Cylke & Kurt 1991; Minner, 1983; Potter, Evans, & Nolt, 1994; and Scheidhacker, Bender, & Vaitel, 1991.


A thorough understanding of theoretical foundations and state of research helps practitioners understand how equine interactions and the equine environment are included within psychotherapy and counseling. Advanced knowledge in this area underpins competent practice, builds connections to the larger mental health community and facilitates cross-disciplinary communication.


The Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner Certificate equips you with the ability to assess clients, horses and treatment sites for suitability. You will develop advanced skill in incorporating interactions with horses and the equine environment into your psychotherapy or counseling practice. Meeting client treatment needs in multiple ways will enhance and extend your work in an agency, private practice or other mental health setting. The program is designed for completion alongside full-time work or studies.


Tuition includes courses, in-person workshops and instructor consultation. Tuition does not include course literature or travel and lodging for required in-person workshops. An additional non-refundable $25 fee is due with your application.


The Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner Certificate helped licensed therapist Natalie Norrell strengthen her existing work with clients and horses through a deeper understanding of equine behavior and equitation science.


Equine therapy integrates horses into a cohesive and collaborative therapeutic process. In equine therapy, clients interact with horses while being supervised by licensed therapists and equine specialists. Through this process, they learn more about themselves and the world around them.


Equine therapy is an experiential, solution-focused treatment focused on the interaction between a horse and the client. It is collaborative and integrative. Both a licensed mental health professional and qualified equine specialist work in tandem to support the growth process.


Unlike horseback riding or horsemanship, equine therapy solely focuses on groundwork. Clients do not ride, groom, or feed the animals. Instead, they interact with them in their habitat and engage with whatever material organically emerges.


Today, equine therapy is nationally recognized as a holistic mental health intervention method. Additionally, many facilities and therapists recommend this service for their clients as either a standalone or complementary treatment.


Like humans, horses each have their own preferences and individual personalities. There is no perfect personality type for horses used in equine therapy. Some horses might be more active and outgoing, while others are more mellow or shy. Therefore, no two equine therapies look the same.


Some people only assume family therapy happens in a structured session in an office setting. However, some of the best family work occurs in the great outdoors. Without expectations or direct probing, families often reveal their true selves.


Instead, equine therapy focuses on the interaction between the horse and the client. You can observe, interact, and safely engage with the horse. You can also talk about what you see the horse doing or how you imagine the horse might be feeling.


As mentioned, equine therapy can support many people with many different conditions. That said, all treatments have their limitations. What works well for one person does not necessarily produce the same results for someone else.


The term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes.


Incorporating hippotherapy into an occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech language pathology session can serve as a powerful tool for the facilitation of the key neuromotor systems that support function. Skillfully applied equine movement, under the direction of a therapist, can offer the patient the opportunity for complex motor learning. Hippotherapy is combined with other standard therapy tools/strategies in an intervention plan designed to address the treatment needs of the client.


Equine therapy includes a mental health clinician, a horse, and may also include an equine specialist. The human-horse bond is used as a healing mechanism [3]. The relationship between human and horse is what allows equine therapy to be so healing.


There are different types of equine therapy. Not all forms of equine therapy are used for people seeking mental health care. The forms of equine therapy that may be used in eating disorder treatment include [4]:


Equine therapy allows for people with eating disorders to work through these issues and develop new relational patterns. Through a relationship with a safe being, such as a horse, people can work through harmful feelings that tend to come up in relationships.


With each new relational experience, someone can integrate this until their new relationship skills become habitual and comfortable [6]. Through the power of relationship and experiential learning, equine therapy offers unique healing potential during the eating disorder recovery process.


Remaining in treatment for substance use can be difficult. Motivation can be lost despite the best efforts of the client and counselor. That is where equine therapy comes into play. Also known as Horse-Assisted Therapy (HAT), this type of therapy offers vital emotional stimulation and growth thanks to the relationship the client can develop with their horse. 350c69d7ab


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