Equine-Assisted Therapy is a treatment for disordered or disabled persons that combines equine activities (everything involving caring for and riding horses) in an equine-oriented environment (stable, circles, riding areas, etc.), with equine-based learning activities (personal and professional life skills), by equine-facilitated psychotherapists (licensed to provide cognitive and other therapies), and with horses. What makes it officially a therapy is rehabilitative goals are established, based on professionally and medically identified patient needs.1
“As I have never been around horses, I didn’t think I would achieve anything, but I did and have had my eyes opened.”
S.L., former Equine-Assisted Therapy patient
Equine activities are any specific horse-based activity, including grooming, feeding, saddling, bridling, mounting, riding, driving, showing, parading, etc., in which any particular disordered or disabled persons are involved in carrying out.
An equine-oriented environment is wherever a horse might be realistically live or be, including stables or barns, paddocks or fenced-in pastures, riding trails, training circles, transport trailers, parade routes, vaulting courses, horse-driving courses and show rings.
Equine-Based Learning Activities
Equine-based learning activities are those that involve learning how to deal with a horse in all its personal splendor and those that help to learn from horses how to deal with our own issues. It is a kind of experiential learning that promotes life and professional skills through therapist-facilitated and equine-assisted lessons.
“On Fridays (Equine Therapy Day) I have my best night’s sleep.”
S.L., former patient
If you feel your son would benefit from Equine Therapy Treatment, call and speak to a Family Advocate today at 1.800.550.1820.
Equine-facilitating psychotherapists are those that are licensed mental-health professionals who are credentialed to facilitate Equine-Assisted Therapy. Such certification is provided by nationally-sanctioned agencies like the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, and the American Hippotherapy Association.
Horses used in Equine-Assisted Therapy are selected and trained to be used in such therapy. Horses of any breed are chosen on the basis of how calm they are, how even-tempered, how gentle, how serviceably sound, and how trainable they are under saddle and on the ground.
“Really, no matter our age, sometimes we just need to be rocked and deeply heard in a connected relationship. I’ve watched horses do this in ways that still bring tears to my eyes.”
Testimonies of Practicing Equine-Assisted Therapists
Meredith Hamel (LADC)
“Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy is a powerful and effective therapeutic approach that has an incredible impact on individuals, youth, families, and groups. It addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs, including behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, PTSD, substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety-relationship problems and communication needs.”
Jolene Green (CSL)
“About 10 years ago I was introduced to horses. They changed my life. I quickly realized they could be a powerful force for hope, growth, and joy for my client’s lives as well…’there is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse’…”
Wanda Whittlesey-Jerome (Social Worker Associate Professor, New Mexico State University)
“They [horses] teach us so much about ourselves and can give us insight into what it means to be human.”
Tiffany Ashenfelter (Counselor)
“What I realized about myself…was how much I assume responsibility for the expectations other may or may not have for me, and how much anxiety and self-doubt it can create inside of me.”
Testimonies of Patients of Equine-Assisted Therapy
–from a patient of Normajean Cefarelli (Cht, RMT, LMFT)
“I recently had the opportunity to be involved with a new therapeutic method called Equine Therapy…I am a retired law-enforcement professional, suffering from several stress-related disorders…I was very skeptical at first but decided to give it a try…I was overwhelmed by the sense of peace and relaxation I had gotten from the therapy…I found that interacting with these animals helped me cope with my stress disorders…I would highly recommend Equine Therapy to others who are attempting to cope with difficult times in their lives. -JK-“
–from patients of Amardeepa Prem (LSW)
“…my family felt stuck…we were so dysfunctional…my daughter and I were able to grow as individuals, as well as strengthen our mother/daughter bond… -L.C.-“
“…I was challenged to delve deeper into myself…to access my inner confidence… -K.S.-“
“…this method helped me understand why some areas of my life are not flowing as I would want them to…I can honestly say that my life has changed. -D.P.-“
“I feel noticeably calmer, less detached and able to interact better with people as my patience level has dramatically improved. My depression has lessened as well. -JL-“
Thousands of troubled teens have been helped through Equine Therapy. Is your son struggling to break through? Call 1.800.559.1820.
1 “Learn About EAAT; EAAT Definitions,” Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International), 2016.