Animals have been used in therapy for thousands of years and, while a range of animals is known for being therapeutic, horses are becoming particularly well-known for their ability to foster change.
Equine therapy puts people and horses together along with a therapist and sometimes a horse expert, in an environment designed to promote emotional growth and learning. The aim is to help you discover more about yourself and to develop new ways of thinking, encouraging you to reflect on your experiences and what they mean to you.
Equine therapy doesn’t necessarily involve riding the horse, or even touching the horse if you don’t want to. During the session, various exercises are set up to help you thinking and act in ways that you may not have thought of before. You may be asked to lead the horse over various obstacles, or in a certain direction, often without the aid of a lead rope. This requires a creative way of thinking and may force you to reconsider the way that you act.
Once you have completed the exercise, your therapist will talk with you about your experience, helping you to explore how the exercise made you feel and ultimately leading you to learn more about yourself and your behaviour.
Over time you may find that you develop a bond with the horse and this in itself can be incredibly powerful.
Equine therapy can be beneficial with a range of different issues such as addiction, anger, anxiety, autism, behavioural problems, low self-confidence, and trauma. It can also foster skills such as leadership, problem-solving, teamwork, assertiveness, creative thinking, and confidence.