According to PATH International, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, there are many types of “equine-assisted activities.” In its broadest sense, any interaction between a person and a horse is an equine-assisted activity. It is a treatment which uses horses to reach rehabilitative goals that are bounded by a medical professional’s scope of practice.
Equine-Assisted Therapy is not an activity run by local horse clubs, church groups, or trainers. Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, which is used by addiction treatment facilities, veterans’ groups, and trauma centers, is always overseen by a licensed mental health professional.
Addicts, the population I work with, often exclaim, “They’re so big!” Indeed, as all horse-people know, trying to get a thousand-pound animal to do what you want is no easy task. Because of these qualities, horses can be used to help people heal from a variety of psychological issues.
Addicts and other trauma survivors have to learn how to identify their emotions in order to work through them. Perhaps a plastic bag blows into the arena during a session, startling the horses.
A client who has experienced child or domestic abuse might break down in tears upon seeing the horses frightened. Any of these kinds of reactions is rich material for talk therapy and can be worked through immediately or in future sessions.
We earn wages to buy feed and tack and maintain horse properties. Whether it is raising children or going to an office, factory, or running a business, we get up early and show up on time.
We listen to our friends, show up for our families, and provide service to our communities. Working hard and showing up in a healthy way are skills that can be learned by engaging with horses.
One common treatment technique for those who were abused as children is to put the (now adult) individual in with a large horse and allow them to interact. Very often, the person will break down in tears and say something like, “I’ve never been treated this kindly by anything so big.” This is an experience the client can then take into the human world.
Equine-Assisted Therapy, particularly Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, can have positive results for those who are recovering from substance abuse, trauma, depression, or a number of other psychological issues. It can help individuals develop a work ethic, identify and process feelings, and learn how to trust.
The professionalism of those engaged with equine therapies is what makes them both effective and safe. Despite unsettling national news reports, including too many headlines featuring the word “Kardashian,” I still count my blessings and give thanks for a few things in 2020.
The bond between a boy and his faithful horse is something for which to give thanks. Photo by Joslyn Young Opening a man-tight wire gate with a kicking, squalling, 20-pound baby strapped to my chest was really hard. I was sure grateful when the first thing Jim did after his team won our local ranch rodeo was cash his check and head straight to the panel-gettin’ place in town.
I still smile every time I unsnap the chain and watch five rails of aluminum awesomeness effortlessly glide open, so I can throw hay or catch a horse. For 7 years I dreamed of living close enough to civilization to attend church regularly, maybe even join a weekly Bible study and make friends while deepening my knowledge of God’s word.
At the very least, I longed for a female friend to chat with and take my mind off the fact that my social circle consisted of a broken windmill and whatever wildlife happened to wander through the yard. Finally, at long last, I now have a home church in our small town and a Connect Group that meets every Thursday for potluck dinner and Bible study.
The youngest child is an overgrown Mongoloid with a cranky streak big enough to hide a bachelor band of wild bulls for a decade, just like his dad. Horses are very fast runners, they are faster than 6 people running.
There are so many kinds of horses, like Pintos and Black Stallions, and many more. I enjoy watching the people ride the horses, bathe and brush them at the stables.
There are chickens and lambs, goats and other animals that are at the stable too. I do want a Black Arabian, they make for great riding and a loving pet.
If you look at the silhouettes of horses standing in a pasture, you'll notice differences in the way their necks are set on. Some breeds, such as Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, are less high-headed, with their necks appearing to come forward out of their backs.
Other breeds, such as Tennessee Walking Horses, American Saddlebags, Pass Finds, and Icelandic Horses, have necks that are set on higher and carried more upright. Harsh bits and long shanks are bad trail bits for any horse; it's too easy for those long shanks to get caught in brush or on branches.
In fact, gained horses can be taught to neck-rein, which will make your trail rides that much easier. Constant bit pressure won't help your horse's natural gait.
Watch your horse when he's turned out in the pasture, and you'll discover that he can perform all of his gaits with no bridle at all. A smooth-gaited horse doesn’t need a long-haired bit or excessive rein pressure to get him into a gait.
Myth #4: You'll need a special saddle “My new Tennessee Walking Horse mare seems to be okay with her tack, but we're out on the trails for hours at a time practically every day. If your mare's saddle allows her to move easily and comfortably, everything is fine.
“Special” saddles “designed for gained horses are all about marketing hype, not tack fit. Save your money for quality tack, get good advice on tack selection and fitting (note that a well-made, well-fitting saddle won't pinch or interfere with your horse's shoulders), and you and your horse should have many happy years on the trails together.
The spot where any horse is the best able to carry a rider's weight is just a hand or two behind the withers. If your saddle fits well, all you need to do is slide it back until you feel it settle into place, then look at it from the side to be sure that the deepest part of the saddle, the place where you sit, is the lowest part of the seat.
Whether your horse wears metal shoes, hoof boots, or goes barefoot, he needs the services of a good farrier. Your farrier will do his or her best to balance and align your horse's hooves in a way that will promote natural gaits and optimal soundness, thus allowing your horse to stand and travel comfortably, smoothly, and in balance.
A good, natural gait can be preserved through good hoof care (and ruined by poor hoof care), but the sources of a horse's natural gait are heredity, conformation, soundness, and training, not shoeing. Experience with specific breeds can help a farrier understand your horse's gait and performance level.
If your farrier isn't comfortable working with your gained horse, find a farrier who works with trail and endurance horses, not one whose specialty is “enhancing” gaits for the show ring. Second, a good gained horse will be very surefooted, and will handle even tough trails in style.
There are quite a few working ranches where gained horses spend their days stepping over logs, walking through water, and carrying their riders smoothly up and down hills, and over all kinds of terrain in all kinds of weather. Gained horses bred and trained for trail riding, such as this double-registered Tennessee Walking Horse/Spotted Saddle Horse, are surefooted, sensible, and will handle even tough trails in style.
Many members of “non-gaited” breeds, such as Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Morgans, can walk, trot, canter, and perform one or more “trail gaits.” If your horse has an “extra gear” in the form of a comfortable trail gait, relax, and enjoy it.
No matter what sort of horse you ride, you owe it to him to become the best rider you can be. If you love trail riding and want to make long, challenging trail rides part of your life, then take lessons, practice, and work to achieve good balance and coordination in the saddle.
Learn to give aids and cues gently, and at the most appropriate times. You'll both have a much better time on the trail, and come home from a long ride sound, happy, and ready to do it all again the next day.
Trotting is a natural gait for most horses, and is good for their backs, balance, and muscular development. Go ahead and trot your horse, encouraging him to use his belly muscles, lift and stretch his back, and reach forward and down with his head and neck.
Find out what your horse can do, and as long as he's equally comfortable in all of his various gaits, encourage him to use the ones that are most suitable for your chosen activities. Trotting your gained horse won’t cause him to “lose” his special gaits; don’t worry that he’ll begin offering a trot when you ask him for his running walk, foxtrot, or single foot.
Next time you're on the trail, ask each rider you meet to tell you the breed of his or her horse. 2017-03-272017-03-27 We love horses for what they embody: freedom, spirit, adventure, and perseverance.
Read 21 inspirational horse quotes to find out why everyone from Winston Churchill to John Steinbeck to Alice Walker loves horses. We love horses for what they embody: freedom, spirit, adventure, perseverance, and drive.
Horses are gentle, loyal, fierce friends and the ultimate travel companions who are willing to go the distance with you. Read 21 inspirational horse quotes to find out why everyone from Winston Churchill to John Steinbeck to Alice Walker loves horses.
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. A horse gallops with his lungs, Perseveres with his heart, And wins with his character.
Closeness, friendship, affection: keeping your own horse means all these things. Horses and children, I often think, have a lot of the good sense there is in the world.
The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse.
The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder He carries me away from all my farmland when the world threatens to fall asunder mane is there to wipe away my tears.
Witching and sweets the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet;No whisper of lover, no trilling of bird, Can stir me as much as hooves of horses Have stirred. Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire.
Cold-blooded horses, because of their stolid demeanor and great weight are not suitable for sports other than hauling or pulling competitions at farm shows. Their heads and eyes are large, their legs and shoulders massive, for pulling wagons filled with hay or dung or for being in harness.
Built for endurance, these horses tend to have stronger limbs, often with long, thick hair around their lower legs and hooves for added warmth. American Cream Draft Belgian Heavy Draft Black Forest Chestnut Clydesdale Frisian Harbinger Worker Percheron Protein Shire Suffolk Punch Swedish Rennes Horses without a link yet are to be added over the coming months.
So, if you're looking for pictures to decorate or set the theme for an area of your home or office, the horse conveys all kinds of meaning. It was used for just about any and every task until the advent of the machine age, so there are many to find if you look. There's nothing like the beauty of a black horse when it gallops.
The thing that is so unique and recognized about the Frisian is its spectacular, flowing mane, tail, and fetlocks. Artists that seek to capture the motion, speed and beauty of horses, can especially find it in the Frisians.
For those of us lucky enough to have come in contact with Frisians, their unusually sweet natures also make them a noteworthy breed. But for the most emotive kind of art look to at, it’s the Frisian horses pictures that will grab you, for their sheer beauty and impact.
Most women can remember clear as day the first time they sat on a horse. Maybe it was an old, arthritic pony not suitable for anything more than the occasional lead line ride.
Maybe it was, as in the case of my mom, a hot Thoroughbred racehorse whose trainers were insane to put an 8-year-old on its back. A little girl all of a sudden gets a lot taller when she's hoisted onto a horse's back.
Horseback riding, like most athletic activities, is much harder than it looks. What you don't see as the observer is how much muscle control, strength and balance goes into even the simplest of maneuvers.
Horses don't naturally move in straight lines and perfect circles. They don't naturally lower their heads and trot prettily around an arena.
As your little girl continues to advance as a rider, you will see her confidence grow. I have seen many a timid and shy girl blossom into a confident, outspoken and capable little lady simply by hanging out with horses and learning to ride.
In the horse/human relationship, the rider is dominant and has to be for her own safety. Riding teaches kids to lead, to make quick decisions and to trust their instincts.
They're a bit like very large, very heavy toddlers--they poop a lot and make a mess when they eat. Horses require hard labor--mucking stalls, hauling water buckets, unloading hay, cleaning tack, repairing fences, cleaning the barn, and the list goes on.
Which do you think will instill tenacity, perseverance and confidence in her ability to set goals and reach them? Horses will also turn your little girl into a tough cookie.
As little girls grow into teenagers, having horses around can be especially helpful. Your teenage daughter can't get wasted at her friend's party because she has to be up at 5 a.m. to trailer to a show.
Horses give teenage girls something to think about beside boys, parties and all the myriad superficial things our consumer society is selling. I am convinced that horses give back far more than they cost in ways that are immeasurable and priceless.
Many families have made sacrifices so that their kids could ride, show or own horses. The time and money spent on these endeavors has a return that will stretch into the child's teen and adult years.
I was never allowed a horse. So I leased one when I was 15 and left school, got a job and bought him. I never had a lesson other than copper teaching me what I needed TTO know, bareback and saddle.
When I gave him away I never owned another horse till I was 21. And that mare, Cindy. Taught me everything copper couldn't. After she got stolen, I wasn't going to get another horse but eventually I did. During all the time id been around horses, starting when I was 10, sneaking to help at the racecourse. Taking days off school. And learning everything possible. And since I was 17. Had been teaching others everything I learned... and after having my son who used to double on Cindy with me, and my daughter who saw many a flying lesson off Cindy and hundreds of ribbons in the shows. Had somehow become a riding instructor.
It's funny. I started watching moon dance Alexandra just before finding this hub :) Being a riding instructor and horse educator myself, I found this really amazing and interesting.
I educated a young pony this year. I say educated rather than broke because, unlike the old days of 'breaking a horse and its spirit through intense bucking and battles of wills.'. I believe in. Understanding what makes them tick and enhancing their abilities and getting them to understand what's required as calmly and quickly as possible without pushing them beyond their learning abilities...
She's owned by a small lady who IIS a bit big for her but on can carry her occasionally for teaching purposes. Well she has 4 boys. They're the normal kick mud n rough n tumble soccer a tennis types... and ALL 4 of them LOVE Bonnie. And all 4 of them get lessons on her twice a week when schools on and 4 or 5 days in row during school holidays...
The softest mouth in the world and she's strong enough to drag me around at the end of the lunge, an I'm nearly 6'. This family, not including their dad. Knew nothing about horses and had this pony pushing and barging, biting and bullying them cos they knew no better. Now. The boys aged Bernard 4, Theodore 6, Joseph 8 and Oscar 9. Can tell you so much about horses and what not to do. And Oscar has even started learning long reining. Philipe Karl style, cos that's the only long reining I use. And he's learning not to be so shy and is learning control of Bonnie. Theo is learning how the bit works and even tho the syrups don't go short enough, has brilliant balance. Bernard is finally talking with words and using correct aids, he no longer needs someone to hold him on Bonnie. He does it all himself and uses the reins. Joseph is amazing. He adores riding and can't get enough. They all have learned, grown and live for riding.
Oh. And the boys have all been on my 16.2h error. Not that quiet thoroughbred lol they love all horses, sports and farm work. And support each other. Oh. Oscar a Joseph have both had big falls. They understand bout getting back on. They've both been off the lead trotting and over trotting poles. Theyv both cantered up the hill and both popped over a wee ditch. Theo is more into helping his dad but when he's not home. He rides a doing amazing.
Another cpl months. He'll be trotting and maybe even his legs will b longer. Bernard. Will take longer. The boys are all small enough to be jockeys. My kids (boys & girls) are in Beef 4H as well as horse 4H & all the same responsibilities are required.
The caring of the animals as well as the numerous benefits of the 4H program grows great, responsible kids that are far too busy to get into trouble! The theory about girls being up on a horse makes them feel more powerful or etc.
I did learn to love riding eventually, but the main thing for me was to have a relationship with these magnificent animals! I will definitely ask my friends to teach their daughters horse riding.
Also in comparison to dropping your child with her soccer coach and teammates and leaving, competing with horses creates a great bond between you and your daughter that can not be replaced. I also went through my love of horses stage, but it ended quite abruptly when I was 8.
In my mind, it meant the horse was about ready to take a bite out of me, so I quickly withdrew out of fear. I didn't even attempt to touch another horse until I was 22, and nearly thirteen years later, I still haven't gotten around to riding a horse...one day, I will, but it definitely won't be today.
It makes me mad because they have everything I have ever wanted and treat it like another daily item. As an adolescent, I went to a “rich” private school where all the little 10-14 year old girls were into name brand clothes and make-up.
When I got off the bus from school in the afternoons, I would drop my book sack at the door, change my clothes, and head straight through the gate to catch my mare. Being too little to throw my heavy saddle, I would grab a bucket and jump on her and ride her till it was nearly dark, put her back, catch my “little man” who was a stud back then, and feed him in the yard while brushing him a loving on him.
And I am starting to teach my 5-year-old the same things I knew at her age!! Although it scares me to death to think of her being way up there on a horse, she is so passionate about them and it makes me think back to the fun times I had at her age with my dad .
They pretend they are part of the show Horse Land. I look forward to learning more about horses through my children's love for them.
I had two horses growing up and I learned so much from their gentle nature and spirits. I began riding when I was about 2 years old and received my own horse on my 10th birthday.
There is nothing as peaceful as going down to feed in the morning with a hot cup of coffee in hand being greeted by 3 of the most wonderful, loving folks I know. My worse days melt away with every smell, sound and touch at the barn.
I grew up and have always had horses in my life and at 22, I know I will have horses around for the rest of my life at risk of insanity :) I worked at a summer camp one year and having that hour out of my lunch break every day to ride and having him there to cry on was literally the only thing that kept me from getting in the car and driving home. I work for my trainer now and can easily spend 60-70 hours a week at the barn without even realizing it, they are my life.
Saint, Joker, Chocolate, Merlin, Wizard, Sugar, Galloped and Buzz are the only boyfriends I have ever needed. My horses helped me survive my childhood and teen yrs without resorting to drugs and other risky behavior.
I must take my granddaughter and have horseback riding. This is going to be fun! At age 3 my mother found me in the neighbors corral, Peking the Horse's knees and feeding them sugar cubes.
And spent 14 horrifying hours in the barn with them during Hurricane Ike (thank goodness for BetterBuiltBarns)and everyone thinks I'm nuts... but I have the very best friends a person can have, I'm never lonely, and to quote an unknown French Calvary Officer: “I will take a bullet for my horse, because my horse will take a bullet for me... I had a man ask me to find two nice horses for his daughters.
And I knew instinctively that it was giving her something that she needed and was so valuable to her but I couldn't put my fingers on exactly what it was doing and why or how it had turned her into this mature confident young lady (at 9 you.) I will never complain again about the drive over to the barn even if it is the 100th time in a week.
But now it's even harder to figure out how to thank the women that own the farm and who work with her almost every day for what they've done for her (and me). They can even work for therapy, my aunt had broken her leg a couple of years ago from riding and was having a tough life until she flew past her fears and got back to horse riding.
They can even work for therapy, my aunt had broken her leg a couple of years ago from riding and was having a tough life until she flew past her fears and got back to horse riding. She has gone through a lot in reaching 12 yrs of age, and has had her horses to lean on through it all.
She sometimes wants to do fun stuff with other girls, but realizes she has a responsibility to her horses before she thinks of herself. Teenage girls are complete Brats to one another and the comfort of knowing a girl can go and be with another living creature that is not going to tease or judge her is one of the most magnificent things about the Female/horse Bond.
Post Script ~ And also: My niece is bi so that bit about boy trouble does not always apply to her. Throwing all of that into the mix makes me wish that she was started out on horses young.
She needs somebody to not sit there in Complete Judgement of her and call her A Slut! Just lost my best friend of 13 years, Sugar, last summer.
I read this and look back at our lives together and realize how much truth there is in this post. Was riding the horses on my grandpa's farm for as far back as I can remember.
They are a truly wonderful animal and I always feel so bad for “horse crazy” little girls who have never been able to experience them up close and personal. If you look around you can find places like ours that give lessons on excellent horses just for those kids that really want to ride.
Later as a teen living in Upstate NY, still obsessed with horses but not owning one, I would visit several neighbors remote pastures and throw myself up on whatever horse I could catch, bareback, and ride around the fields until they'd dump me. That went on for several years until one neighbor finally realized it, and simply GAVE me the horse.
40 years later, I am still obsessed with horses, and my daughter is well on her way to becoming an accomplished rider...thanks to the little Welsh pony I bought her when she was only TWO! After 5 back surgeries, two hip replacements (due to RA, not riding), my horse fills the void created by empty nest, gives me friendship, companionship, a shoulder to cry on, a smile when I need it and all the physical therapy possibly needed.
Even though I'm not the rider I was 20 years ago, I am on my way out the back door to tack up, w/t/c and start my new horse over fences. Even though there are choices to be made (buy horse feed or a tasty meal), the purchase of horse feed takes priority.
The girls as you say developed greater self-confidence in the riding rings. I completely agree my horse that I had as a kid helped me through a lot of hard times.
When I started leasing a senior gelding Dandy I worked for the barn to pay off the board. When I got Tex at 17, I started working at a local tack shop 30 hours a week ridding six days a week and finishing High School.
I still to this day find comfort and support at the barn with Tex who is now 26 and I 31. We are partners, it is my job to make what is left for Tex as happy and comfortable.
Never question the good a horse can do for a girl just support and cultivate the love. As a girl growing up with several disabilities, I took to riding as an escape from the cruel kids at school.
There were times in class when I would just break down and cry over learning a particularly hard dressage move, or going over a high jump. All those years of riding taught me confidence, patience, trust and perseverance...no matter what obstacle was in my way.
Neither of my parents knew anything about them and there wasn't extra money for lessons, so I had to learn the hard way. I married a man who was 7th generation of horse persons, and he is now a farrier (nice benefit).
Needless to say my husband and I have 8 horses, 3 are Events, 1 in dressage training, 2 have been my lesson horses for when I have students, 1 is my personal Apply mare who is the love of my life (don't tell hubby) and then my Finger pony who is teaching me to drive. Seems silly that 2 people could possibly need so many horses, but we wouldn't know how to live without them.
I have the pleasure of watching and learning from these guys and girls, and they have taught me many things about humans, strange how that happens! What about boys....boys need all the same life lessons in order to make good dependable husbands, husbands that are capable and able to take care of their families.
I was lucky enough to be raised with horses, but I know many who are not that fortunate. My desire to share my faith and love for horses with people am what sparked the idea just over a year ago to start a ministry called Riding 4 Him.
We teach people age 4 & up how to love, ride, and care for horses. Each lesson also includes a small group bible study and prayer time.
Our program is very inexpensive, and nobody is ever turned away due to an inability to pay. We just try to make enough money to pay our bills and tend to our rescue horses.
Horses are just one of the wonderful ways the Lord has blessed us, and I do not doubt in a second that I would NOT be who I am today without them. I am a very strong, Christian woman who has Multiple Sclerosis....and my horses keep me moving.
Oh, to have had the chance to have a horse and ride when I was younger...but I wouldn't trade what I have now for anything. And animals in a children life tend to bring out the best.
If you ask my Dad, he'll tell you I've been “horse crazy” more or less since I had legs. People just don't understand why I want to “complicate” my life with animals.
I hear “why don't you get a life, and get some REAL companions” (a man, some human friends, ECT) or “don't you know you could have a new house and/or car if you didn't spend all your extra money on these animals. I am always told I need a shrink, or I have a screw loose or the best one yet “no man is going to want to share his life with you when all you do is spend your time and money on these useless animals” All that may be true.
I may be nuts...so far NO man has ever wanted anything to do with me in my entire almost 37 yrs life. Lol Bottom line my animals do more for me than any human and ESPECIALLY my mares.
I have spent many days, moments and hrs the past 6 1/2 yrs crying into Miss Skylar's mane. The horses cost $400/month but putting them in an arena full of boys competing only cost $100 month for TAE Won Do and it was a better workout plus life skills.
I take full responsibility for it, and right now, it's killing me because I can't find any place for her to ride. The best gift I ever received was for my 9th birthday, a year of twice weekly riding lessons.
Horses Are Great For, Grown Women & Little Of' Ladies Too.... I Can Have A No Good, Very Bad Day.... Feel Unappreciated, Unloved, Unwanted.... You Get The Picture.... But Groom A Horse, Brush His Mane,,,Climb Up Onto The Back Of A Horse.... And I Am Loved, Worthy, Strong.... Quite Simply....QUEEN OF THE WORLD... And It's Been That Way For Over 50 Years! I work with a medical re-enactment group that collectively among all the members have 6-12 horses that we perform with.
The Squires and ground crew) which I'm one of (Squire) and winning all those ribbons especially on a Percheron cross mare that shouldn't be able to move in tight formation like the smaller Arabians or win the dressage which her rider and one of the other knights were convinced they had ruined her for. Working with those horses, gaining the trust of the rescue horses and learning to handle them on the days they were being pills, and joking around with the other kids of the group will go on to be some of the greatest memories of my life.
We also operate a ranch for helping at-risk youth with the Eagle model of EAP/EAL in Ocala, Florida. At Story Book Meadows the horses have taught many teenagers what forgiveness looks like, kindness, gentleness and how to let go of anger.
Courage and fortitude, confidence and trust, proper handling and harnessing in early age encourage performing great expeditions. Time is changing and many mechanical rides have been invented like bikes, motorbikes, cars, jeeps, airplanes and even after half a century sputniks and even other names will come to light.
I know my horse literally saved my life as a teenager....suicide was not an option to her. But this article is about how horses improve confidence and self-esteem particularly in young girls.
I have rheumatoid arthritis, horseback ridding makes you feel whole again and forget the pain Horse back riding is not just for girls or women...
Horses are amazing for kids I have witnessed kids who didn't speak or interact with anyone respond to the horses it is life changing, I am where I am today because of them, and they still continue to educate me on so many levels but my kids love horses too and I have given up many “things” to have them ride and wouldn't change a thing I may have to work longer but as I have told my husband when my oldest started to ride at 3 horse are cheaper than us raising a grandchild for 18 years and a good rehab is at least $8000 a month I'm involved with a riding academy that offers lessons at reduced prices to little girls whose parents might not be able to afford the more expensive show barns.
We utilize this because while riding is awesome, the horses are able to be more expressive and physically act out or show the client internal landscape with the use of metaphors...which becomes quite powerful in the healing process when the client experiences these moments invite with the horses. So, we agree, horses are good for little girls and can help them grow up confident, resilient and strong.
And they give a girl someone to trust when they feel their whole world is falling apart. Sitting within the confines of a traditional office, talking things out with a therapist between four walls, doesn't always work for kids and adults grappling with tough mental, emotional and behavioral health issues.
“I use horses to help folks heal,” says Holly Hansen, an equine-assisted psychotherapist with Sabine Recovery, a residential treatment center in Tucson, Arizona. She's part of a team approach that uses a mental health professional, an equine specialist and horses to treat people with emotional trauma and addiction.
As prey animals, horses are hyper vigilant, constantly scanning their environment for potential danger. She recalls a client she treated at a previous workplace, a man with chronic relapses of drug and alcohol abuse.
Amanda, a 13-year-old student, shows up at the main barn in a state of frustration over backbiting friends and middle-school drama. Her session at the Project Horse Empowerment Center in Russellville, Virginia, begins with a short walk to a nearby field alongside equine specialist Maria Nimble and therapist Heather Kirby.
She recalls how one young boy with a history of horrible early neglect and abuse taught a horse how to kick a ball. Hope continues to nuzzle Amanda, at one point forcing her to kneel and speak underneath the horse to her therapist.
As the humans talk about setting limits and learning social skills, the horses seem to be listening. Amanda, by simply standing with an air of confidence and assertiveness, wordlessly claims her own space as the large, pushy horse moves away.
Afterward, as Amanda chats with the therapists, her grateful mother makes it clear these visits aren't just pleasant interludes. Amanda has been receiving equine therapy since March, following her latest of multiple hospitalizations for emotional issues including self-harm.
Horseback riding, carriage driving and on-the-ground equine therapy are methods used to help veterans with PTSD or traumatic brain injury, with sessions resuming this week in a peaceful Leesburg, Virginia, setting. To cope with short-term memory deficits, for instance, veterans might learn strategies to help remember the chronological order of steps for securing the bridle and saddle on the horse, or the harness for carriage driving.
Among veterans who have issues with anxiety or hyper vigilance related to traumatic brain injury or PTSD, horse therapy can help them relax and feel more comfortable as they build trusting bonds. After 10 or so weekly sessions with horses, vets notice they're adjusting better to their disability or injury and are more relaxed in their daily lives.
As an emerging treatment, equine therapy lacks a robust body of supporting evidence from large, long-term or randomized controlled studies. If you're considering equine-assisted therapy, look for a balanced treatment team that includes a mental health provider with equine-therapy training and an equine specialist.