What is Equine Therapy?
Equine facilitated therapy is an experiential (hands-on) psychotherapeutic intervention involving horses as co-therapists. Depending on your identified needs, your treatment plan may include equine therapy.
Here at Castle Craig our Equine Therapists are EAGALA trained.
- A qualified Mental Health Practitioner works alongside a Horse Specialist each focusing on human and equine behaviour respectively, ensuring emotional and physical safety.
- There is no riding involved and no prior horse-knowledge is required, this therapy is also suitable for those with a fear of horses.
- Horse therapy is non-directive therapy which encourages the individual to find their own answers and take responsibility for their own choices.
- There’s a strict code of ethics, prioritising the dignity and well-being of both human and horse at all times.
Research shows Equine Therapy can work with those affected by addictions, emotional trauma (including PTSD and dissociative process), atypical behaviors, self-worth issues, abuse, eating disorders, learning difficulties, anxiety and depression.
Benefits of Equine Therapy
- Increased self-awareness
- Increased confidence
- Improved social skills
- Improved communication
- Anxiety reduction
- Greater trust
- Healthy boundaries
- Responding – not reacting
- Anger management
What Makes Therapy with Horses Special?
The horse embodies a metaphor of healing and their archetypal energy is recognised across cultures and civilizations. Equine Assisted Therapy is an intense therapy where powerful personal learning can take place in a non-threatening environment.
Here are a few reasons why:
Horses can put their 50 million years of successful existence down to healthy boundaries and expert communication on a non-verbal level. Engaging with them and our activities offer alternative ways of relating to the world around us.
- As prey animals, horses have an instinctual fear of danger and can read the intentions of another from a great distance. This means they are able to accurately tell what we are really feeling – even if we are not yet aware of it. Thus, they act as a mirror to what is going on in our lives, giving instant, honest feedback which is a catalyst to our healing.
- Horses are masters at self-regulation or the ability to ‘ground’ themselves after any difficulty or trauma. Being close to their calm energy can allow us to do the same, eventually incorporating this learning into our everyday life.
- Due to their sheer size and physical presence the horse can incite different reactions and emotions from us depending upon our life experiences. This creates a natural opportunity to examine the power dynamics that exist within our relationships.
- Horses are naturally curious, social creatures who do not worry about ego, looks or qualifications and have no ulterior motives. They stay in the present moment and provide unconditional acceptance, a major factor in the healing process.
“As I have never been around horses I didn’t think I would achieve anything but I did and have had my eyes opened.”
“It helped me process really heavy weeks and got me really fast and in the here and now.”
“On Fridays (equine therapy day) I have my best night sleep.”
“…lowering my stress level significantly.”
“I feel noticeably calmer, less detached and able to interact better with people as my patience level has dramatically improved. My depression has lessened as well.”
Read about Steven Lowe, a former patient at Castle Craig, Spending time with horses: Is this the perfect therapy? The Herald, 25th August 2008.
* EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) is the Global Standard in Equine Therapy.
**Taken from, ‘The Effectiveness of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy’ a literature review by Cassandra Hunter (2014). Sources and references can be provided upon request.
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | September 17, 2021