Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Meet Taz, he is the newest partner at WML Wellness LLC. He assists in the counseling process by helping clients gain awareness of the present moment. So often we go about our day without being present. Our robotic lives can feel like we are on autopilot and we forget to have presence and awareness. Taz helps clients with their presence because it’s hard to stand next to a horse without noticing their majestic qualities, size, and gracefulness. There is a connection that is formed between humans and horses that builds trust, confidence, and an opportunity for self-reflection, observation, and healthy attachment. Horses respond to people’s energy and spook easily making them unpredictable and forcing us humans to adjust at a moment’s notice. Horses force people to have a flexible mindset and adjust their behavior and temperament because horses are very sensitive to our energy and they will let you know. 

How does the Therapy work at WML Wellness LLC

A new Client to equine therapy will generally start with low levels of interaction with the horse: petting, grooming, and feeding. We might then work up to haltering Taz and leading him together. Not all equine therapy incorporates riding horses, though it is frequently woven into the practice. We will discuss the client’s readiness and determine together when the time is right.

Equine-assisted psychotherapy is said to work in part because of the natural ability horses have to pick up on human emotional expressions and needs. Particularly patient, perceptive, and attuned to displays of fear, anger, agitation, and despair, horses are able to mirror human moods in a nonjudgmental way, without motive or expectations. As the person in therapy bonds with the horse, self-awareness grows and emotional healing often takes place.

Equine-assisted psychotherapy, also called equestrian therapy or horse therapy, is a type of experiential mental health treatment that involves a person in therapy interacting with horses. Designed for people of all ages, equine therapy has been shown to treat a wide range of mental health issues, addressing both physical and psychological concerns. 

Equine-Assisted Therapy vs Hippotherapy

Both therapies involve horses, but each addresses a different goal in overall health. Equine-assisted therapy focuses on addressing mental health, with patients caring for horses in a stable setting. Hippotherapy, on the other hand, is an approach to physical therapy where the patient rides horses in order to address physical health.

Hippotherapy is a combination word that encompasses the occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and physical therapy components of this horse-riding therapeutic technique.

Equine-assisted therapy focuses on addressing mental health challenges. By caring for horses with a mental health professional present, patients are able to address their emotional and mental health issues. The emotional intelligence of horses helps patients improve their self-confidence, overcome their struggles, and build long-lasting emotional foundations for success. Equine-assisted therapy has been shown to improve mental health, even reducing symptoms of mental health disorders.

History and Development 

The idea of combining equestrian activities and philosophies with the treatment of physical and mental health issues dates back centuries. Ancient Greeks wrote about the benefits of horse riding, calling this practice hippotherapy (from the Greek hippo, meaning horse). 

It wasn’t until the mid-1900s, however, that modern psychotherapists started using existing principles of therapeutic riding developed to treat polio and other health issues for the treatment of mental health concerns. Equine-assisted psychotherapy as a modality grew out of therapeutic riding techniques and organizations designed to make horse riding accessible for people with disabilities.

Studies have shown people of all ages can benefit from equine-assisted therapy, and horses have been incorporated into treatment for a wide variety of issues, including:

Equine therapy can target physical concerns such as behavioral tics, motor control issues, balance, posture, and coordination–especially in children and teens with cerebral palsy. In other cases, working with horses helped by increasing individuals’ cognitive skills, reducing stress, easing symptoms of PTSD, and addressing symptoms of depression. Equine therapy has even been shown to, for some individuals, have a positive effect on destructive relationship patterns that have developed or behaviors that compromise health or safety. 

In a study of over 30 people participating in an experiential equine-assisted therapy program, researchers found the individuals’ psychological distress reduced immediately following treatment and that psychological well-being improved. These positive effects held stable through a follow-up six months later. 

Equine Therapy will take place at the barn where Taz is stabled. The location will be disclosed at the time of booking.

Session cost: $150/50 minute session at the barn

Equine Assisted Therapy History and Information:

Patient-Centered Communication (PCC) in Equine Assisted Mental Health:

Canine and Equine Therapy for Mental Health: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness:

Mental health benefits of mounted equine-assisted therapies: A scoping review:

Equine-assisted activities and therapies in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A systematic review:

Equine-assisted psychotherapy with traumatized couples-Improvement of relationship quality and psychological symptoms: