Equine Therapy sometimes includes riding, but more often than not the animals and trainers that offer equine therapy simply give that overcoming trauma a safe place to be. A calm horse, properly trained, can be a companion and guide into a mental space of calm and peace.
Heal Past Traumas
Horses trained to provide equine therapy are accustomed to being handled by multiple people. Generally, it’s humans that have to be trained to handle horses. However, horses trained for therapy know how to tolerate the touch of many humans. There’s something incredibly calming about being approached by a large animal and touching it. Horses meet humans on their level or above. Whereas a smaller animal can be easy to pick up and held, a horse will often look down on people but offer only gentleness. If you’ve suffered physical abuse and felt someone stand over you menacingly, the act of looking up in safety can be very freeing.
Increase Self-Esteem and Confidence
Horse therapy often includes learning to care for horses. Putting a bridle on a horse and walking it around the pasture is an exercise in trust. They can, with little effort, get away from their human trainer or even injure them. A properly trained therapy horse will follow commands of a beginning trainer. In addition, they can gauge the stress level of their handler and remain calm, helping the handler to reach a peaceful state of expression. It’s important to note that horses can be traumatized as well as humans. Therapy horses are trained to be handled by multiple users and to trust humans. Traumatized humans who need to learn how to establish healthy boundaries can develop deep bonds with a well-trained horse who will allow the human to learn. Horses allow humans to experience unconditional love through safe, healthy, and positive attachments.
Build a Herd
Many humans who suffer trauma of any sort have a hard time building a “herd,” or community. Equine therapy can break down those barriers to trust by providing damaged humans with a way to learn to treat these animals with gentle respect. A quality equine therapy program will require humans to spend a lot of time learning how to connect safely with these animals, learning to move with care and give the horse verbal cues of what will happen next.
Finding an equine therapy program can be a great way to start your emotional healing. Breaking away from a damaged and threatening past may mean leaving people behind, at least for a bit, while you learn to bask in the loving patience of a well-trained horse.
Looking to start taking horsemanship lessons? Get in touch with one of our professional trainers.