Equine-assisted therapy uses the therapeutic healing power of horses to treat a wide range of physical, mental, and psychological disorders. It is said that Greek civilization used the technique to promote mental and physical growth in people almost 2000 years back. The benefits of therapeutic riding programs are mentioned in many ancient books on medical science and healing.
In the modern era, the therapeutic value of horseback riding and equine-assisted therapy was first introduced during the 1940s when there was an outbreak of polio. Since then, equine assisted therapy has gained popularity as more and more people look for facilities offering therapeutic riding near me. Over these years, equine therapy has proved to be effective in helping people with physical disabilities find lost strength. However, horse-assisted treatment can help people with a wide range of disorders. They are:
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Cerebral Palsy
- Drug and alcohol addiction
- Developmental/genetic disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Apart from horse-back riding, equine assisted therapy consists of numerous activities. A patient may or may not require to ride a horse. Before starting to ride a horse, one must first acquire specific skills like mounting a horse, grooming a horse, or how to saddle up a horse. Learning these skills is in itself therapeutic as it helps in understanding how to build a bond with others, be confident, and patient. The activities that are involved in equine therapy are of 3 types. These are practicing activities, cognitive treatment, and scheduling activities.
Understanding the three Equine Assisted Therapy Activities:
Practicing Activities: In the activity, the patients choose an activity to take care of the horse. They are made to select an activity which they do not know. Some may be asked to groom the horse, while others may be asked to feed them. Throughout the process, the patient is encouraged to communicate their feelings and thoughts.
Cognitive Therapy: This treatment method is appropriate for people suffering from anxiety. Horses are known to be very attentive to what is happening around them. They can sense the feelings a person around them is experiencing and act upon it. When someone with anxiety is around a horse, the horse can sense it and may get anxious. Learning how to calm the horse can help a person fight the stress and develop these skills. Equine-based cognitive behavior therapy helps patients build a relationship between their thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Scheduling Activities: Taking care of a horse is not an easy task. There are a lot of challenges one has to face in order to take good care of a horse. The process of continuously taking care of horses helps one to be more attentive to the needs of oneself and others. The behavior of a horse may change without notice, and this makes it essential for the caregiver to be flexible with his approach.
While taking care of the horse, a person also develops a sense of confidence, improvement in motor skills, and communication skills. The benefits offered by equine-based therapy are endless. These benefits are making the treatment more and more popular amongst all kind of people.