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.
Do horses really help me heal?
Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) is a science that works for patients with physical and mental needs. The horse is a mediator and participant in therapy for the patient in the saddle. How does it work? What are the benefits? Who are the subjects? Here are the answers to your questions.
We vaguely understand the principle of the equestrian therapy: the horse helps to heal. Yes, but how does it work? Is it really effective? What is the equestrian therapy? If we go to the website of the French Equitherapy Society, we understand that it is “a psychic treatment mediated by the horse and provided by a person in his psychic and bodily dimensions”. In other words, Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) aims to bring well-being, comfort, appeasement and confidence to patients. “The horse is a good master, not only for the body but also for the mind and the heart”, said Xenophon four centuries before Jesus Christ.
The horse is a mediator in the relationship between the patient and the therapist. Thanks to its highly developed sensory channels, the horse becomes a true mirror of the emotions felt by the patient. The horse is receptive to all that’s surrounding him, feeling exactly what is happening inside the patient. When this one feels fear, or satisfaction, the therapist will not always be able to decipher it right away. While the horse yes.
When certain medications are no longer sufficient or when psychological follow-up sessions no longer bring anything, equestrian therapy can be an alternative or a complement. Patients are increasingly looking for another path “than the rigor of classical medicine or the passivity of care,” argue psychologists, adding they had cases when patients found it difficult to talk to a healthcare professional behind closed doors, this being too intimidating for them. Their motivation is increased with the animal, the medical context being left aside. The horse waits for the patient to come to him, he is not intrusive.
Numerous testimonies show how this technique allowed them to get out of depression, to calm deep anxieties, or to change difficult behavior. Patient’s mind is better because he expresses himself through the horse and to the horse. This helps him to reach out to the other, to the animal, and to trust.
To who is it addressed?
To people with autism or affected by mental retardation, or suffering from dyspraxia, school phobia, concentration problems, self-confidence problems, psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, post-traumatic syndrome, anxiety or simply going through a period of grief. The cures last between six months and a year, at a frequency of one session per week.