From miniature ponies visiting local hospitals and hospices to larger horses teaching children and adults how to ride, equine therapy is a flexible and unique method of treatment. There are many organizations and barns who offer these services. Horses give people with developmental disabilities a chance to socialize and learn new skills.
Often times the patient doesn’t just mount the horse and ride. They’re taught how to care for and groom the horse so that the pair can establish a relationship and learn to trust one another. It gives the rider confidence when being accepted and welcomed by their newfound friend.
Horses can’t be dishonest and won’t judge someone based upon their appearance. Equine Therapy is a very beneficial method of treatment for many. These animals can provide service to anyone who has the following: amputations, autism, cerebral palsy, depression, downs syndrome, lack of confidence, lack of trust, other physical injuries or disabilities, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress or anxiety, substance addiction, terminal illnesses, weak balance, poor communication skills, weak motor skills or coordination.
Because horses can’t speak like we do, the rider has to learn how to convey messages to them through body language and signals queued by legs and hands. It teaches us how to be patient and keep our emotions in check.
But as mentioned before, horses aren’t just used for riding. Miniature ponies are small, mobile, and very clever. They can guide the blind, perform everyday tasks for anyone with a physical handicap, and give comfort. There are hundreds of equine therapy facilities across the Unites States. With a little online research, it’s likely you’ll find a local treatment center that fits the needs of whoever you’re looking into therapy for.
Horses are fantastic animals that can help anyone improve upon themselves, whatever their condition may be. Many are afraid of them because they can be so much larger and stronger than us. The only way to face that fear is to learn how to communicate with them. Usually when people have an initial bad experience with a horse, it’s because of a lack of information and supervision. Horses are like people, and each one is different in terms of personality. Some horses are not good for young or inexperienced riders, which is why therapy horses are carefully selected and trained. They are brave, quiet, and patient with whoever’s sitting in the saddle on their back.
A therapy session once a week can make a difference in a person, whatever their condition may be. So, if you or someone you’re caring for, needs a supplement to a traditional therapy setting, or if you need to try something different, learning to befriend a horse might be a beneficial alternative.