Last Updated on November 20, 2021 by Ben Lesser
Equine therapy is a cutting-edge therapeutic method for addiction recovery. Animals are also used in rehabilitation environments to assist clients with difficult emotional interactions. Individuals can gain greater insight into other aspects of life through working with horses. Interestingly, many people benefit from equine therapy in ways that they don’t get from conventional talk therapy.
Equine Assisted Therapy Has a Long and Illustrious History
Horse therapy (EAT) utilizes horses and a horse environment to treat individuals with ADD, anxiety, autism, cerebral palsy, dementia, depression, developmental delay, genetic syndromes (such as Down syndrome), traumatic brain injuries, and behaviour issues. A horse therapy program can develop confidence, self-efficacy, communication, trust, insight, social skills, impulse control, and the ability to establish boundaries in an individual. Since horses and humans have similar behaviours, such as social and receptive behaviours, it is simple for patients to develop a bond with the horse. The impressive achievements of riders with disabilities are evident at national and international competitions. Almost every major country recognizes the effectiveness of equine therapy in medical and mental health fields.
Equine therapy dates back to ancient Greek literature when horses were used for therapeutic riding. Horseback riding was a therapeutic benefit by ancient Lydians around 600 B.C. Equine therapy was introduced in Scandinavia in 1946 in response to the poliomyelitis outbreak.
A community organization, the Community Association of Disabled Riding (CARD), brought therapeutic riding to America and Canada in 1960. Disabled riders have been riding since the early 20th century for recreation, education, and therapeutic benefit. People have also used elephants, dolphins, sheep, and cats as medicinal sources in the past. People gain confidence as a result of horses’ broad and intimidating presence.
Equine therapy involves more than horseback riding. There might not be any contact between a client and the horse during an individual session. The trainer often gives clients tasks during a session, such as guiding the horse to a certain location or fastening its halter. After the client has completed the task, they will discuss the process, concepts, and problem-solving techniques they utilized. You will help the client acquire new linguistic skills by engaging them in an ongoing conversation about their current activities.
Listening to the instructor provides students with the opportunity to ask questions, follow directions, and learn about equine therapy. There is contact between the horse and the handler but between the handler and the coach. People experiencing anxiety may find it particularly useful to picture their futures since they frequently worry about the past or anticipate what they will face in the future. Being present and concentrating on what one is doing is the goal of this activity. Those who teach Equine Therapy can easily adapt cognitively and play and talk therapies. According to the nature and intensity of the anxiety, the Equine Therapist will suggest processes or strategies during the session.
Cognitive Therapy, Practicing Games, Task Preparation, Play Therapy, Storytelling, and Talk Therapy Are the Main Approaches Used.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy is often used to treat anxiety. Equine therapy makes its surroundings more aware and tends to escape dangerous situations when they appear. Observing these changes may encourage individuals with anxiety disorders to talk with their therapist about their nervous behaviour. A focus on the horse rather than the person can help reduce nervous responses with equine therapy. In this way, automatic thinking is questioned. This process will teach the patient how to control their thoughts and remain calm.
- Putting Exercises Into Effect: People with anxiety often have difficulties processing negative emotions, and those who dislike unpleasant, stressful, or frightening experiences avoid horse riding. A person choosing this method is encouraged to select an activity beyond his or her skill set. Upon discussing any emotions or thoughts these events caused, the therapist would provide them with assistance. Preparation and communication are necessary when washing and feeding a horse.
- Scheduling Activities: Patients suffering from anxiety often avoid activities that were part of their daily routine equine therapy due to anxiety’s effect on their lives. As opposed to doing those tasks, the more they avoid them, the more fear they feel about the possibility of returning to them. A routine to take care of an animal during the day can teach a person a sense of responsibility and flexibility because the needs of the animal/horse can change at any time. Equine therapy helps clients shift their focus away from anxiety and towards responsibility and function throughout the day.
Because horses are natural communicators, equine therapy is frequently used to foster interpersonal skills or a therapeutic environment for individuals, families, and groups. A goal-driven approach to equine therapy often aids groups in working together to achieve their goals.
Horses’ Peculiar Roles in EAT
This Is a List of Horse Characteristics that Make Them Perfect for Therapy
- Unbiased and Nonjudgmental: Horses are unaffected by their physical appearance or previous mistakes, meaning they react to the patient’s behaviour and feelings alone. Patients point out that having this information is fundamental to the process and helps form self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Reflection and Feedback: Equine therapy is a highly specialized field. Therefore these animals are well suited to observe it. As a result, they get advice more quickly and more accurately than they would from a human therapist. In studies, equine therapy has proved to be effective in helping patients become more aware of and aware of their abilities, body movements, and feelings, allowing them to become more self-aware. This technique allows the patients to sense each other’s energy. The equine specialist interprets the feedback, and the community discusses it.
- The Use of Metaphors for Real Life: Equine Therapy is applied to real-world problems when therapists seek to use horses as metaphors for other issues. One patient was having problems explaining how they felt about an upcoming move out of the state, and a therapist suggested they use the horse metaphor to help.” Although she found it difficult to explain every aspect about how to help horses to adjust to a new environment, she provided some tips.” The child’s step was better understood through the metaphor of equine therapy.
Equine Therapy Specifics
Monty Roberts, the author of The Man Who Listens to Animals, is known around the world for his gentle approach to training and taming wild or misbehaving horses. Roberts’ turbulent childhood at the hands of an abusive father is chronicled in this autobiographical novel. Roberts grew up around horses and developed an early sensitivity to them, experiencing more of a kinship with them than a master/beast relationship.
While he was a young man, Roberts was taken in by the natural communication between horses in the wild on a trip to Nevada during his early twenties. He created a theory and a training strategy based on his findings and converted them into a profound and enduring theory of treating all dogs with compassion. As a result of Robert’s unusually unconventional approach, the Queen of England has taken a personal interest in him, having been impressed with his horse training demonstrations and establishing a friendship with him.
Find Out More
singing horses as a tool for human relationships equine therapy was quickly perceived as a great idea by the public was quickly perceived as a great idea by the public. For example, in 2005, Roberts was asked to conduct three days of workshops for teachers at independent British schools, as reported in the British newspaper The Guardian. In adapting his horse training philosophy to that of childrearing and teaching, Roberts applied to train equine therapy the lessons he learned from horses and children.
The author suggests using equine therapy to teach responsibility without punishment by having teachers in the UK draft contracts for good behavior and bad behavior. A child participating in the process would allow them to be heard and take responsibility for any sanctions when drafting or enforcing rules (such as timeouts). Children could thus avoid fearing punishment when they break a rule or facing the whims and discretion of the teacher, who might punish the child more severely or less severe depending on his or her mood equine therapy.
Today, equine therapy is becoming a recognized type of therapy in the United States. While Roberts is not the founder of therapy, many of his ideas are shared by qualified equine therapists. While different treatment facilities can have different services, the essence of equine therapy is the same. Working with a horse will provide an opportunity for the client to learn new communication skills and develop as an individual.
The Following Are Some of The Advantages of Equine Therapy:
- Increased self-assurance
- Have faith in yourself.
- Controlling the impulses
- Social abilities
- A broader viewpoint
Equine Therapy in The Recovery Process
The trust-building and personal growth that equine therapy can offer is an ideal match for the needs of many substance abusers in recovery. For this reason, therapy is available at certain rehab facilities as part of their complementary or supplemental behavioural therapy programs. Equine therapy is not intended as a substitute for the traditional approaches of detox, counselling and aftercare. Drug abuse is complex and requires a multidisciplinary approach to achieve success. In light of high relapse rates (40 to 60 per cent) post-treatment, new therapies, like working with horses, can help to improve the odds of a successful recovery.
As the National Institute on Drug Abuse discusses, the behavioural therapy component of rehab is aimed at rebuilding the recovering addict’s self-esteem and teaching healthy life skills to maintain abstinence.
Additional Goals of Behavioral Therapy Include:
- Providing an incentive to participate in treatment actively
- Learning how to cope with stress without turning to drugs
- Shifting out of the drug-using mindset and adopting a life-affirming attitude
- Understanding cues that can trigger drug use, and developing strategies to avoid or cope with these triggers
While traditional equine therapy approaches can address these goals, the therapy offers another avenue to learn these skills. Therapy also has the advantage of an open-air setting that can help to connect clients to nature.
Getting Equine Therapy Treatment
A variety of methods can improve certain life skills and personal values during an equine therapy session. Clients can be asked to lead horses in a ring without making physical contact with the horse during a session. The same way humans rarely succeed in engaging other animals with yelling, snapping fingers, threatened, or stampeded feet, horses are not very responsive to those actions. It is not possible to prod or lead a horse from behind. If a person stands at the side of a horse, they will find that the animal joins in with them. Because equine therapy is so far outside the box, equine therapy forces many people to face a new set of communication and relationship beliefs.. Contact Us Today on 615-490-9376 or check out FRN programs for More Information on Equine Therapy
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. He is a freelance medical writer specializing in creating content to improve public awareness of health topics. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.