Understanding horse therapy
For centuries, animals have helped support and comfort humans. Whether the animal is guiding someone with limited eyesight or assisting someone with seizure disorder, pets have long been included in the care plans of humans. When horses are involved in the treatment and healing process, this is called equine therapy or equine-assisted therapy.
Horses were used as early as 5 B.C. for their curative benefits. Even veterans in the early 20th century used equine-assisted therapy. Equine therapy picked up in the 1960s when professionals began to create guidelines for horse-assisted therapy. Today, many healthcare professionals incorporate horses into treatment programs to help alleviate physical impairments or mental health conditions.
What to expect with equine therapy
Equine therapy may be used for different reasons, depending on the treatment goals. When it comes to alcohol treatment, horse therapy is often incorporated into the process to help recovering addicts develop coping skills.
During equine therapy, residents are paired with a trained facilitator who guides them through riding, caring, grooming, and interacting with horses. If equine-assisted therapy is part of your treatment, the facilitator will carry out the plan according to your provider’s care instructions. They will stay in contact with your addiction team, providing updates and making adjustments to your therapy as needed.
While some people enjoy working with horses and even simply observing them, others are terrified of animals of such stature and strength. If you’re fearful of animals or horses, let your facilitator know. They’ll educate you about horses and help acquaint you with them before immersing you into therapy. Afterall, the goal is to benefit from equine therapy and not cause further distress.
Types of equine therapy
You’ll ride horses with a professional by yourself or with a group. Not only can horseback riding improve your physical strength, it can also help improve your mental health by relieving stress and anxiety.
Horse care and interaction
This involves caring for horses. Horse grooming is hard work, but has numerous health benefits, including improving concentration and focus and giving you a sense of responsibility.
Learning about and observing horses is also therapeutic. You’ll get to watch horses and learn how they interact with each other and their human partners. Horses adjust their behavior to human emotions. This two-way interaction provides comfort for many people.
Benefits of equine-assisted therapy (EAT)
Working with horses has several benefits for recovering addicts. Along with being immersed in nature, some of the benefits of EAT are:
- Emotional regulation
- Improved self-esteem
- Improved self-help skills
- Coping skills
- Feelings of freedom
- Better concentration and focus
- Confronting fear
Start equine therapy in Houston
Want to begin equine therapy in Houston? Mallard Lake Detox Center, a luxury rehab in Houston, is one of the few addiction treatment centers that offers equine therapy.
We’re available 24/7 and eager to help you overcome alcohol and substance abuse. Call 936-800-8025 or complete our contact form.