Feeling good with Horses: Benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy
Feeling sad, anxious, or out of sorts? Well, you might benefit from some equine therapy. What is Equine Therapy? First, let me define equine…Equine is the term relating to or affecting horses. So, whenever you hear the term equine, you will understand that it is relating to horses.
Horses are used for many purposes; this blog will focus on Equine Therapy (ET). What is Equine Therapy? Equine Therapy or Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAT), also called equestrian therapy or horse therapy, is a type of experiential mental health treatment that involves a person during therapy interacting with horses. Equine-assisted therapy encompasses a range of treatments that involve activities with horses and other equines to promote human physical and mental health. The use of EAT has roots in antiquity, and EAT applies to physical health issues in modern form dating back to the 1960s. Okay, enough about the history of EAT; now let’s talk about the different types of equine therapy and their treatment.
Equine therapy is commonly used in conjunction with other forms of psychotherapy treatments.
Equine Therapy has been proven effective in the treatment of:
Addiction and Substance Abuse
Mental illnesses like autism, Asperger's, bipolar disorder, and more
Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease
Health difficulties and many other mental health disorders
Although this is not an exhaustive list of treatments, Equine therapy is designed to just make you feel good. The desired effect of EAT is to create positive change. By working together with therapists, counselors or psychologists trained in the mental health field with specificity in Equine Assisted Therapy as well as other traditional horse training, this type of therapy has proven to be highly effective.
Let’s get to the meat of this blog……What are the benefits of equine therapy and what happens in the therapy sessions. Equine Assisted Therapy often includes a number of beneficial equine activities such as observing, handling, grooming, groundwork, and structured challenging exercises focused on the individual’s needs and goals. Equine Assisted Therapy provides unique non-verbal opportunities for the client to enhance self-awareness, recognize maladaptive behaviors, identify negative feelings, and face self-defeating cognitions. Clients experiencing a deficit in psycho-social behaviors can delight in the advantage of a significant change in cognition, mood, judgment insight, perception, social skills, communication and learning. Other benefits of EAT are: physical exercise, enhancement of attention span, improvement of self- esteem, relaxation while spending time in nature.
Equine therapy is by no means the answer to all of life problems, but the benefits outweigh the suffrage of not doing anything at all. Several people that admit to feeling anxious try equine therapy and report a feeling of calmness after their first ride. Equine Assisted Therapy can be a powerful and magical way to assist our children and adolescents in multiple social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral domains as well. Equine Assisted Therapy is being recognized as a more integral part of psychotherapy and mental health and can serve as a unique and effective intervention that should be considered as a resource by parents and professionals.
Therapists administering equine therapy have patients galloping to ranches and stables to recover from all kinds of medical conditions as well as psychological conditions. The feeling of the physical cadence of a horse can stimulate one’s muscles and spine to promote healing. Horseback riding helps with motor skills, balance, coordination, and physical rehabilitation.
If you cannot afford therapy, do not own a horse, or know someone that does, there are many ways to acquire this valuable treatment. By just observing horses in a field, their carefree behaviors and interactions with each other in a herd, or the rhythm of their motion creates a feeling of calmness and well-being that triggers the brain to produce dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that promotes feelings of pleasure. It can regulate your heart rate and blood pressure. In addition to the neurological effects of dopamine production, the person looks forward to enjoying life and various activities.
When feeling out of sorts, give Equine Therapy a try. You’ll thank yourself for it and wonder why it took so long to get started. If this is your first time being introduced to horses, trot on back and get another dose of the fixins’ of Equine therapy.