Some may wonder why Equine Therapy has gained so much hype in recent years.
Equine Therapy has been used for centuries, but it has only gained mainstream attention in the last few decades. Research has shown that Equine Therapy can help individuals with a wide range of mental health and behavioral issues, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, autism, and addiction. Equine therapy changed my life and I find being in the presence of horses to be grounding and healing. My therapy horse taught me I needed to establish healthy boundaries. This was extremely challenging and was the beginning of the ending to a toxic marriage to a grandiose narcissist that lasted way too long.
According to a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, "Equine-assisted therapy can be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder." Another study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing found that "Equine Therapy was effective in improving self-esteem, communication, and social skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder." Winston Churchill said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." Similarly, the late Robin Williams said, "The best therapist has fur and four legs." But why is Equine Therapy so effective? Horses are known for their ability to mirror human emotions and respond to nonverbal communication. They are sensitive animals that can pick up on even the slightest changes in body language and behavior. This makes them excellent partners for therapy sessions, as they can help individuals become more aware of their own emotions and behaviors.
Equine Therapy also provides a unique and engaging experience for individuals who may not respond well to traditional talk therapy. Working with horses provides a hands-on, experiential approach to therapy that can be more effective for some individuals. AHA moments are the norm and often things open up more quickly through experiences with the horse than through standard therapy.
As an additional therapeutic benefit, Equine Therapy also provides powerful metaphors that can help individuals better understand their own experiences and emotions. For example, a horse's behavior can reflect an individual's level of assertiveness or trust, allowing for deeper exploration of these issues in therapy or coaching sessions. These powerful metaphors can provide a unique perspective that may not be achieved through traditional talk therapy.
It's important to note that Equine Therapy is appropriate for individuals of all ages, including children ages 6 and older adults. However, it's important to choose a program that is tailored to the specific needs and abilities of the individual. Programs may vary in their approach, with some focusing on groundwork and others incorporating riding or other horse-related activities. At Thrive Farm, over 90% of the work is on the ground. It's important to discuss options with a certified Equine Therapist and choose a program that feels comfortable and appropriate for the individual's needs.
Equine Therapy has gained hype in recent years for good reason. Research attests to its effectiveness in helping individuals with mental wellness, emotional, and behavioral issues. As someone who has experienced the power of Equine Therapy firsthand, I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a unique and effective experiential therapeutic approach.