March 6, 2015
BY | Paige Rosoff & Louise Weadock
Everyone who has animals can agree that their company serves as a natural therapy and stress reliever. For people of all ages who suffer from developmental disorders such as ADD, anxiety, autism, dementia, delay in mental development, down syndrome, depression, trauma and brain injuries, behavior and abuse issues, sensory processing issues and other mental health issues, animals have proven to serve a more substantial purpose. One therapy in particular that’s associated with this idea is Equestrian Therapy.
Equestrian therapy, (also known as equine therapy or equine-assisted therapy) is a form of therapy that uses horses to help promote emotional, physical and psychological growth.
Horses are one of the most popularly used animals for therapy because of their ability to respond immediately, give feedback to their rider’s action or behavior and mirror the rider’s emotions. It’s always easy for patients to establish a connection with the horse because of how similar horses behave to humans in their social and responsive behavior.
Therapeutic Benefits of Equestrian Training
Equine therapy combines different kinds of therapy such as occupational, physical and speech-language therapy in a way that the patients don’t feel that they are actually under therapy at all because it’s fun and engaging! The goal of an equestrian therapist is for its patients to:
- Build sense of self-worth and self-concept
- Improve communication
- Build trust and self-efficiency
- Develop socialization skills and decrease isolation
- Learn impulse control and emotional management
- Set perspective
- Learn their limits or boundaries
Equine Therapy Activities
Horseback riding is what’s most commonly thought of when thinking of this type of therapy, but it’s not limited to that. Many children may feel intimidated by the size of the horse and may take some time to develop trust. Because of this, the therapy also includes lessons on taking care of the horse, grooming, and saddling. Grooming and care taking activities is not only specific to children – the act of being in control and taking care of another’s livelihood is rewarding and therapeutic for all ages.
Hippotherapy is another form of therapy through this process that uses the movements of riding a horse as a healing medium for individuals with mental or physical disabilities. This type of therapy is used to improve sensory and motor input, sensory processing and neurological function.
Check out the Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Cold Spring, who serves equine therapeutic services for individuals 4 years and up!
References Equestrian Therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2015, from http://www.equestriantherapy.com/