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Not only can interaction with a horse be a fun experience or a great pastime, but it can also be very therapeutic. Horse interactions for the purposes of therapy are known professionally as Equine Assisted Therapy. Interaction with horses can be very rewarding emotionally, mentally and physically. One need not be able to speak to derive pleasure from interacting with horses. Similarly, cognitive skills do not also play a huge role for someone to enjoy this activity. Furthermore, because a horse’s movement is similar to a person’s, people with physical disabilities hindering them from walking may see improvement in their balance, muscle regeneration and their ability to be flexible. Emotionally it has been noted that people who have experienced tragic episodes in life such as a taxing illness like cancer can find interactions with horses cathartic. On the same note, people suffering from esteem issues may greatly increase their confidence by mastering horse riding. There are different categories of horse interaction for therapy, and the article gives more information on each.

Horseback Riding for Therapy

Horseback riding can be a beneficial experience not only in the field of recreational activities and sports but also in the areas of health. As a form of therapy, horseback riding can be beneficial as physical, emotional and mental therapy. In fact, thousands of people struggling in these areas benefit therapeutically from riding horses. It has been shown a horses movement when being ridden can help with a physical disability as it is similar to a man’s. Basically, it may help strengthen the muscles needed to balance, and to walk. For therapeutic purposes, horseback riding may be done with assistance from a Certified Instructor. People recovering from surgery have testified that horseback riding assisted them in their journey to walk. Mentally, horseback riding can improve cognitive ability. In illnesses affecting co-ordination such as multiple sclerosis, horseback riding may prove to be beneficial. One such person from the organization Astride with Pride (an organization that specializes in this form of therapy) testified that horseback riding helped her day to day struggles arising from multiple sclerosis. Emotionally, horseback riding is being used as a cathartic process, for people who have experienced tragedy.


Hippotherapy is different from horseback riding. Whereas horseback riding primarily involves the teaching of horse riding skills to persons with disabilities, Hippotherapy is an actual treatment method used by physicians. Hippotherapy is classified as neuromuscular therapy because it is believed that it can enhance posture and coordination of people with neuromuscular disabilities. Hippotherapy has been written about since early Greek Civilizations. In fact, the Greek Physician Hippocrates is recorded to have noted it in 400 B.C. Be that as it may, this form of therapy did not gain prominence until the mid-20th century when physicians started using it to people with mental disabilities. It can prove to be a more effective form of therapy than other conventional forms.

Equine-assisted Psychotherapy

Using horses psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder has been done since time immemorial. It is only now regaining its prominence in the modern world of psychotherapy. Its effectiveness has not gone unnoticed. During Obama’s presidency, special funds were specifically allocated for this form of therapy, to assist in the rehabilitation of soldiers. Equine-assisted psychotherapy involves the use of a horse, a certified instructor as well as a therapist together in order to achieve a patient’s psychotherapy goals. It is an incredible alternative to conventional psychiatry. Among its many uses, Equine-assisted psychotherapy can be used for people with anger management issues, relationship issues, for those who have lost a loved one, depression and anxiety. Studies show that short-term results are instant. A Certified Instructor at the International Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship noted that he witnessed this form of therapy repairing a father and child bond.

Horses as Agents for Therapy

The large unobtrusive presence can be very calming. Moreover, horses are dynamic creatures, with unique characters, a quality that can assist with emotional awareness of psychotherapy patients. Similarly, they are social creatures living in a herd. Watching horses in their natural social setting can be a great teaching aid for important social skills. Lastly, because they offer a great form of distraction, they may be a great way for therapists to get their clients to open up.