In therapy, I see myself in the mirror differently


Ricky Williams

What is Equine Assisted Therapy?

Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), otherwise known as Equine Therapy, is treatment including equine activities or in an equine environment promoting physical, occupational, and emotional growth. New Life Marbella works with horses when a client suffers from ADD, Anxiety, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Depression, Developmental Delay, Genetic Syndromes (such as Down Syndrome), traumatic brain injuries, behavioral issues, abuse issues, and many other mental health problems.  

How can Equine Therapy help?

Equine therapy can help the individual build confidence, self-efficiency, communication, trust, perspective, social skills, impulse control, and learn boundaries. Since the horses have similar behaviors with humans, such as social and responsive behaviors, it is easy for the patients to create a connection with the horse.   Riders with disabilities demonstrate their remarkable accomplishments in national and international sport riding competitions. Equine-Assisted Therapies have been recognized in the medical and mental health field by most significant countries. It is known as a great way to help with detoxing.

What is the history of Equine Therapy?

Equine therapy dates back to ancient times, when ancient Greeks used horses as therapeutic aid for those people who had incurable illnesses. Orbasis of old Lydia documented the therapeutic value of riding in 600 B.C. Equine therapy started in Scandinavia after an outbreak of poliomyelitis. Therapeutic Riding was introduced to the United States and Canada in 1960 with the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled (CARD) formation. In the United States, she was riding for the disabled developed as a form of recreation and as a means of motivation for education and its therapeutic benefits. Contact our team today to find out more. Horses become the most popular animal to use in animal therapy because they give immediate feedback to the handler or rider’s actions. Horses also can mirror the feelings of the handler or rider. Horses’ large and intimidating appearance forces an individual to gain trust around them.Equine Assisted Therapy Image


Equine therapy can involve more than just riding the horse. In some sessions, a client might not even touch the horse at all. Often the therapist leading the session will set goals for the client to complete, such as leading the horse to a designated area or putting a halter on the horse.  The client will complete the task to the best of their ability and then discuss the thought process, ideas, and problem-solving used to complete the job. Discussing what the client is doing at a given time allows them to improve language skills. Listening to the instructor helps improve the individual’s ability to listen and follow directions, ask questions. 

There is communication between the handler and the instructor and between the handler and the horse. This skill becomes especially helpful for those struggling with anxiety as frequently they are stuck in worry about the past or catastrophic thinking about the future. This activity encourages a person to be present and focused on the task at hand. Therapists who teach Equine-Assisted Therapies can quickly adapt Cognitive Therapy as well as play and talk therapy. Contact New Life Now.

An equine therapist can decide the processes or techniques applied in the sessions. Cognitive therapy’s main techniques are practicing activities, activity scheduling, play therapy and storytelling, and talk therapy. Cognitive Therapy: This type of therapy is often used as a treatment for anxiety. Horses sense danger and respond with a heightened awareness of their surroundings, often trying to flee if the situation seems too dangerous to them. Individuals suffering from anxiety disorders may feel these changes through observation, then allowing them to discuss anxious activities with the therapist. Focusing on the animal’s apprehension rather than oneself can significantly reduce the individual’s nervous response and will enable them to challenge automatic thoughts.nlm 1113 Equine Assisted Therapy

Throughout this process, the patient would practice remaining calm and taking responsibility for their own ideas. Practicing activities: Oftentimes, individuals experiencing severe anxiety will tend to avoid activities that are challenging, fearful, or out of their comfort zone. This technique allows an individual to choose an action, which may be outside of their skill level. The therapist will then assist them as needed and talk with them about thoughts or feelings that are stimulated by these activities. For example, riding, bathing and feeding the horse are all activities that involve coordination, planning and active communication. Activity scheduling: Many people struggling with anxiety will begin to avoid chores or other responsibilities that previously were inherent in their daily activity due to the impact the stress is having on their lives. However, the more they avoid, the more their anxiety is perpetuated by thinking about returning to those activities. Planning or developing a schedule to care for an animal or horse throughout the day can teach an individual a sense of responsibility and flexibility because the physical needs of the animal/ horses can change anytime. 

This allows the person to direct their focus away from their anxiety and begin returning to the structure during the day to foster an experience of feeling more competent and responsible.nlm 1114 1 Equine Assisted Therapy Many horse characteristics can be identifiable to individuals, including the instincts of play, curiosity, freedom and social drive. Play therapy allows and inspires creating relationships and setting limits. Storytelling encourages developing stories about what the animal is thinking and conveying emotion.

This is an excellent tool for promoting the development of language skills and creativity. Equine therapy is often used as a team-building exercise or in family or group therapy because horses also show interpersonal behavior. Also, because equine therapy is often goal-oriented, it allows the group to work together to achieve a common goal.

The Unique Roles of Horses in EAT

This list includes characteristics of horses that make them unique for therapy. Non-judgmental and unbiased: Horses react only to the patient’s behavior and emotions and are not biased by their physical appearance or past mistakes. Patients describe this as being crucial to the therapy and aids in the increase of self-esteem and self-confidence. Their nature as prey and herd animal makes them hyper-vigilant and sensitive, thus making them keen observers. This means that their feedback is provided earlier and more consistently than with a human therapist. The horse has an innate tendency to mirror the patient’s behavior, physical movements, and emotions, which help the participant be more aware of themselves.

It allows patients to “feel felt.” This feedback can then be translated by the equine specialist and analysed by the group. A therapist’s ability to use the horse as a metaphor for other issues helps make the equine treatment applicable to real-life problems. An example of how a therapist can help the patient work out issues in their own lives through the use of the horse as a metaphor: “One child was having great difficulty discussing how they were feeling about an upcoming move to another state. She was, however, able to offer many suggestions for how to help a horse that was being sold feel more comfortable in his new environment”. Using the horse as a metaphor for his move, the child better understood and could cope with her move.

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