Equine Therapy

Equine Therapy

“Please keep Mended Hearts in mind, we are a locally ran, non-profit Therapeutic Riding and Counseling Center who has been helping families, adults, and children for over 15 years! We rely on donations to help our families in need and to support our therapy animals!”

Why Use Equine Facilitated Therapy?

An old Arab proverb states, “the horse is your mirror, and capable of revealing your true self’.

Horses have been called “the dolphin of the prairies” because they:

  • 1. Provide unconditional friendship
  • 2. Provide immediate, honest and observable feedback.
  • 3. Horses mirror our own, sometimes subconscious thoughts by reacting to body language, tone of voice and overall presence.
  • 4. Studies have shown that horses can help clients learn more about how they interact with others and that in turn helps them improve their relationship skills (Glass, 1996).
  • 5. Equine Specialized Psychotherapy allows clients to develop trust in both horse and in others (Parker, 2001).

Who is Equine Facilitated Therapy For?

Research has shown that horse therapies can be beneficial for adults, adolescents and children (PATH International). This model can be utilized with individuals, small groups and family or couples. Clinical evidence suggest that Equine Facilitated Therapy can help:
  • * Low self-esteem
  • * Body image disorders
  • * Attention deficit and disruptive behavior disorders
  • * Other cognitive disorders
  • * Relationship problems
  • * Memory impairment
  • * Sensory deficits
  • *Tourette’ s syndrome
  • * Post Traumatic stress disorders
  • * Intelectual Disability
  • *Learning disorders
  • * Brain injury
  • * Communication disorders
  • * Pervasive developmental disorders
  • * Substance-Related disorders
  • * Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic
  • * Mood Disorders
  • * Depressive disorders
  • * Anxiety disorders
  • * Dissociate disorders
  • * Sexual and Gender identity disorders
  • * Eating disorders
  • * Impulse-Control disorders
  • * Personality disorders
  • * Low self-esteem

How Does a Typical Session Work?

Clients often approach the horse and horse related activities much like they approach life (Daugherty, 1999). The typical format utilizes specific horse activities, which leads into processing feelings, behaviors, observations, and feedback. Equine Specialized Psychotherapy (ESP) has the added dynamic of utilizing horses each with different personalities, attitudes, and moods as unique as those of each individual involved. Because of this, ESP can produce a variety of experiences and situations for discussion, analysis and learning (Kersten & Thomas, 2000).

Charles de Kunffy noted some of the emotional benefits gained from being with horses when he said “Courage, wisdom born of insight and humility, empathy born of compassion and love, all can be bequeathed by a horse to his rider” (Clara, 2001).

Do I have to have equine experience?

The answer is NO. 95% of all clients that seek equine therapies have never had any horse experience. It doesn’t matter if the client has never ridden before or has never even seen a horse up close. Equine therapies are tailored for all ages, shapes, sizes, and experienced to non-experienced clients.

Is equine therapy safe?

There are certain inherent safety issues in working with an animal that can weigh between 500-2000 pounds. Most riding centers take certain precautions to help clients remain safe and free of injury. Some basic equine skills are taught for safety reasons and to help guide the client toward a successful relationship with the horse but how they arrive there is up to them. Clients are told of potential dangers and ways to prevent them. Fear is sometimes a big issue when dealing with a horse. This fear is used as a metaphor for the client’s life in how they work through this fear and if they choose to do it safely.

Find more information about Equine Facilitated Therapy by checking out the links below:

PATH International – Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (formally NARHA)

EAGALA – Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, Inc.