Have you ever noticed how being in the presence of a horse can be calming and rejuvenating? How you can talk and share your ideas, stories and worries without interruption or judgement? You aren’t alone. Animal-assisted therapies are a widely accepted practice for several hundred years in varied documented forms. Far more is now known about Equine therapy today.
So what exactly is Equine Therapy you ask?
Equine therapy is a form of psychotherapy and counselling for individuals outside of a traditional clinic-based model. Supported by trained professionals in a safe and comfortable environment clients are given the opportunity to communicate non-verbally with horses. You needn’t have had experience with horses to receive this form of therapy nor does it involve riding a horse. Clients are diverse in age and ability. They come from varied backgrounds and have unique past experiences. Equine therapy can assist groups, families, couples or individuals. This type of therapy is a holistic approach to recreating self-awareness and growth within clients.
Holistic therapy relies on a calm, healthy horse to develop trust with the client without language. Many people are drawn to the beauty, grace and power that horses invoke. As an animal that is part of a herd horses have a deep desire to form relationships. They are highly perceptive and self-aware allowing them to read the person they are with and also create a feeling of calmness and change.
Activities – Finding the right fit
Equine therapy activities vary based on the client’s needs and abilities. For some individuals carrying out horse focused activities such as feeding and brushing can increase confidence and trust. Some people need time at their pace where they can be in the presence of a horse. To receive that feeling of love and confirmation from a horse can be very empowering and for some people it will be the first time they truly feel loved and secure. Mounted sessions allow the client to connect on a deeper level with the horse. It creates trust and can assist in displaying movement and self-awareness.
Equine Therapy is only to be conducted by accredited health practitioners who have specialised in equine psychotherapy training. Trained practitioners have the expertise to relate the best therapy activity to an individual based on both their physical and psychological needs and requirements. Within the activities, they monitor and then support the client through the process. Check to see that your practitioner is registered with a national Equine Psychotherapy Institute before commencing this type of therapy. You want to make sure that you have trained professionals at all times.
Disabled to Enabled
There are many individuals with varying temporary and permanent disabilities that benefit from assisted horse riding. As well as the psychological benefits there can also be an improvement in muscle strength, balance and flexibility with the rider as a horse mimics the natural walking gait of a human.
Even the smallest of impacts such as being outdoors in the fresh air can be therapeutic. Remember to take any animal assisted therapy slowly and consult with your treating doctors and specialists before proceeding to ensure safety. There is no harm looking at this type of therapy. For those of us familiar with horses we know and understand the intrinsic benefits that a relationship with horses can bring.
If you would like, more information about Equine Therapy contacts your nearest Equine Psychotherapy Institute.