What is Equine Therapy?

September 10th 2020

Are you suffering from anxiety or struggling with life problems and seeking a long-lasting solution? Perhaps you know someone going through a rough patch in their life? Counselling may be a good place to start. However, if you have tried counselling and feel it has not been working, it is time to try a non-traditional approach. Did you know that horses in counselling sessions offer a unique experience that can mirror the complexities of everyday life? Equine-assisted counselling is deeply rooted in relational counselling. It enables people to explore how they relate with others and themselves. Here is all you need to know about equine-assisted counselling.

What is equine therapy?

It is a compelling therapeutic model that incorporates horses. It offers a collaborative approach for addressing symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as a host of other mental health and behavioral issues that affect our lives. Equine therapy is used by mental health professionals who take great pride in the high statistical success of treating individuals or groups with specific needs.

How does therapy work?

Participating in an equine-assisted counselling session is beneficial for children and adults alike. It is a chance to build understanding and acceptance of who we are. A session includes working with both the horses and a mental health professional certified in equine facilitated wellness. There are vast mental health benefits that come from the deeply powerful connection built between horses and humans, including the development of emotional intelligence. Emotional and neural development can be negatively affected by experiences such as trauma but the rich relational interactions with horses help individuals grow in both these areas. 

It is quite an effective method for treating anxiety, ADHD, autism, depression, dissociative disorder, behavioural outbursts and many other mental health problems. Increased confidence, emotional regulation, and self-esteem are a few of the benefits of equine-assisted counselling. Experiencing guided, intentional interactions with horses has been proven to reduce cortisol, lower blood pressure, and increase the release of oxytocin. Thus, people feel calmer, regulated, happy, and capable.

Type of equine therapy

There are four fundamental types of equine therapy that you ought to know. They are as follows.

1.Equine-assisted psychotherapy 

Equine-assisted psychotherapy has many names. An integral part of this approach is that it is facilitated by a properly certified and trained Mental Health Professional such as a psychotherapist, counsellor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. It is quite helpful to individuals dealing with emotional turmoil or mental health distress, especially because of trauma or acute stressors. It is also useful for people who are struggling with addictions. These sessions can occur on or off the horse, although they tend to begin by building a relationship and strong communication from the ground before riding begins. 


Here is another form of horse therapy. It involves working with an occupational therapist or physiotherapist and an equine professional. Hippo-therapy works effectively with individuals who have physical, occupational or speech problems. It aids in developing better balance, posture control and coordination as the rider is challenged to use the various postural responses of the horse. Therefore, one gets to strengthen their muscles through the various gaits, cadence, tempo, and the direction of the horse.


3.Equine facilitated learning 

Here the horse comes in handy for the physical and emotional growth of an individual or as a team-building experience for a group. It can assist in gaining confidence through skill mastery and shared experience.  

The sessions tend to occur on or off a horse and may be facilitated by an equine professional without mental health licensing or training. 

4.Therapeutic riding 

Here is a beautiful equine therapy session that is designed for the specific physical needs for the well-being of the rider. It is often used among children with physical or cognitive disabilities. It has also been shown to be effective among kids with autism and sensory integration disorders.

These sessions occur on the horse and may not include a mental health professional.

Benefits of the equine therapy 

The success rates of equine therapy are through the roof. It is known to foster mental, emotional, and psychological growth. Here are the undeniable benefits of equine therapy.

1.Identify and cope with feelings.

It is already tough dealing with addiction, trauma, or mental health as it is. While in a bid to keep feelings in check, many resort to negative strategies such as using drugs to numb sadness, fear, joy, or anger. Sadly, it might lead to more addiction or worse - loss of life. However, seeking a non-traditional counselling treatment is a route that is worth trying. With equine therapy, you learn how to cope with your emotions and to deal with various signs of depression. It is a simple and gentle way to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings, enabling you to react more appropriately and positively. 

2.Communication and interpersonal skills

When an individual is emotionally underdeveloped, they may withdraw from others or have inappropriate behavioural outbursts. However, if you are having a challenging time bonding with others, you can always establish a close bond with horses. Horses are such excellent communicators that they do not need speech. Once you understand the horse's behavior and body language, you will gain a deeper understanding of human behavioral patterns. This is a chance to develop an objective opinion and improve your interpersonal skills in the long run.

3.Overcoming fears 

Horses are large animals that possess immense strength. This can bring up past fears, trauma triggers, and feelings of lack of control. As a result, most people often fear to get closer to horses. Instead of getting scared and defensive, equine therapy teaches people how to process their emotions and adapt to their surroundings. As you process your feelings, you will feel your fears begin to float away.  

4.Impulse control 

Horses are lovely as they respond in non-verbal cues and communicate through body language. You slowly learn to communicate with a horse, along the way learning emotional awareness and self-control as therapy sessions continue. Equine therapy provides the opportunity for developmental growth, and, for those with mental disorders, to reduce their agitation as well as aggressiveness. Thus, one learns to forge and establish healthy communication which will later apply to human relationships.  

Statistic of success 

Horses are the most excellent counsellors’ companion, they offer individuals gentle, open, and non-judgmental interactions. They enable us to become aware of our internal voices and how we see ourselves. It is a critical step in developing self-awareness and initiating change. Horses communicate through body language and their engagement is based on relational experiences like respect, boundaries, compassion, and trust. Here at Collins Counselling, we offer a unique approach to counselling. Our esteemed counsellor is always available to bridge the knowledge as well as understanding between humans and horses. We assure you of high success in improving the mental health and general well-being of our clients. 


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