“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire.”– Sharon Ralls Lemon
I recently started an internship at a rehab center, and the program is focused on Horsemanship. The Horsemanship’ program is formulated around the National Horsemanship model, utilizing psychology-based training to work with horses in their natural state, and understanding their mentality via five main concepts: approach & retreat, pressure & release, rewards & consequences, desensitization, and foundation training. The program provides opportunities for the clients to care for and bond with the horses, learning and taking responsibility, acquiring critical thinking skills for problem-solving, and to become better or well-rounded future leaders.
It is fascinating how many venues or things which can be therapeutic. Therapy can be anything that can provide a sense of relief or healing as a form of treatment for psychological or physical symptoms. So it is not surprising that Equine Therapy can be an effective form of therapy. The Graceful, beautiful, spirited, and fierce nature of horses have proven effective for different types of therapy; physical, occupation, psychological, etc.
Benefits Of Equine Therapy
A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves–strong, powerful, beautiful–and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.– Pam Brown
This form of therapy can be helpful for individuals living with depression, anxiety, conduct disorders, dissociative disorder, PSTD, addiction, dementia, etc.
Trust – when clients are having problems with trust issues, horsemanship can be useful and allowing them to learn to create relationships in their lives, not just with animals, but with other humans.
Attachment – By allowing the individuals to care, groom, and saddle the horses, it helps to improve or breed attachment, which can be transferred to helping the individual start experiencing attachments in their relationships.
Relaxation – Due to the nature of horses, they can help you relax because of their sensitive nature to moods and fragility of human beings. If you are lucky enough to own or have access to a horse you can have some free therapy after a stressful day.
Speech Development – It can be instrumental in terms of building confident communication skills because the individual practices speaking and pronunciation to the horse during therapy.
Assertiveness – Equine Therapy can help you be more assertive while helping to be less aggressive if you are having a problem giving orders or talking without yelling and shouting. Horses do not respond well to screaming and shouting. For example, leading a horse without riding or touching it, but only using your voice to convince the horse to obey you can improve your negotiating or communication skills.
Self-awareness – While working with horse a person can gain insight into their own strengths and weaknesses which may lead to significant interaction skills. This improves relationships and communication skills while enabling emotional awareness and the ability to read other people’s body language
Mindfulness – While working with horses the individual is forced to be in the now or in the moment. This allows the opportunity to forget whatever they may be dealing with and provide a safe haven. The ‘Here and Now’ is a guaranteed benefit of horsemanship. I am grateful to experience the results of this integrated therapy.
Long term benefits can include self-confidence, self-concept, social skills, and many more gains after one year or more.
“He knows when you’re happy.
He knows when you’re comfortable.
He knows when you’re confident.
And he always knows when you have carrots.” Unknown Author
Interning here gives the opportunity to experience another form of therapy, which is centered on wellness and tailored around Person-Centered and CBT therapy. Seeing how the clients interact with the horses and give their own interpretation of their interactions empowers them. Many times therapists, or human beings in general, tend to find ourselves wanting to interpret and fix the lives of clients or people without allowing them to contribute. The horsemanship program motivates me more to become a therapist or a person that empowers or inspires others to be their best self by being more of a guardian than a commander. When we allow others to find their own solution by guiding them we instill hope, which is the core of resilience for future problem-solving strategies.
I believe the primary reason why animals can provide us with therapeutic experiences is that they are the closest we can get to nature. Our wellness is linked to how much nature we can experience.
Thank you for reading. Let’s practice a Wellness lifestyle,
in whatever capacity we can. Don’t forget to pet your dog, cat or horse if you
are lucky to have one. Take a walk and enjoy the change of seasons. Enjoy the
trees changing colors and greeting us with beautiful and vibrant colors — happy
Comstock, N. W. (2018). Equine therapy. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health McArdle, K. k. a.
mcardle@abdn. ac. u., Ehlen, K., & Ralph, J. (2018). Equine Assisted Therapy: an
evaluation of the therapeutic, reciprocal relationship between horse and rider. Good Autism Practice, 19(2), 52–58.
“What is Equine Therapy?” Equine Psychotherapy. Equine Psychotherapy. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. http://www.equine-psychotherapy.com/equine.html