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  • Mary Ann Brando

Equine-Assisted Therapy

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Keenly aware of emotional energies, horses sense what we’re feeling, sometimes better than we do. With a few well-chosen words and a forced smile, we may be able to hide our real feelings from another person. We may even hide our own deeper feelings from ourselves. But we cannot fool a horse. Horses can sense emotions that lurk beneath the surface of our awareness and mirror them back to us, showing us what we have been avoiding. Horses are honest and present, responding openly without pretense. You know where you stand with a horse.

Building trust with such a sensitive animal takes time, time that can become a healing, empowering process. For years now, people with a range of issues, including ADHD, autism, eating disorders, abuse, depression, and anxiety, have benefited from equine therapy.

There are different types of equine-assisted therapy that use horses for different purposes and goals. Some of them are:

Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP): This type of therapy involves activities with horses that are designed to help people with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, or addiction. The activities are supervised by a mental health professional and an equine specialist. The aim is to help people develop skills such as emotional regulation, self-confidence, and responsibility.

Hippotherapy: This type of therapy uses the movement of the horse to provide physical, occupational, or speech therapy for people with disabilities or impairments. The horse’s movement can help improve balance, coordination, posture, and sensory integration. The therapy is conducted by a licensed therapist who guides the horse and the client.

Therapeutic Riding: This type of therapy teaches riding skills to people with special needs, such as cerebral palsy, autism, or learning difficulties. The riding skills can help improve physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being. The therapy is led by a certified instructor who adapts the riding lessons to the individual’s needs.

There are many benefits of therapeutic riding that are associated with the horse. Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity that uses horses to help people with special needs improve their physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being. It involves teaching riding skills that are tailored to the individual’s goals and needs. Therapeutic riding can also provide recreational and educational benefits for people of all ages.

Equine-assisted therapy for military veterans: This is a type of therapy that uses horses to help veterans cope with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues.

Some benefits of Therapeutic Riding and horsemanship are:

Horses can help people with anxiety by bringing them back to the present moment and responding to their emotions. Horses can help people with physical challenges by improving their flexibility, balance and muscle strength.

Horses can help people with emotional and mental health issues by offering emotional support, self-confidence and responsibility.

Flying Bee Farms offers “Hoofbeatz", our Therapeutic Riding Program. We are staffed by PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding instructors who engage participants in activities both on and off the horse that can improve their mental, emotional and physical well-being. The farm hosts various clinics and fund-raising activities to fund our program. We are a proud sponsor of the 2023 Region 2 PATH International Conference. Click/Tap on the button below to learn more about PATH International.

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