Equine Therapy (also called Horse Therapy, Equine-Assisted Therapy, and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy) is an experiential therapy that entails patient interaction with horses. The exercises are on the ground and do not require riding the horse or any prior experience with horses. Facilitated by a professional (Equine Therapist), activities are tailored to help patients develop self-confidence, communication and self-reflection.
Often, with addiction, we have behavior patterns that are largely unconscious. Horses are very sensitive and provide body language and nonverbal response to our actions and emotions. This allows the client to see themselves and their actions in a new light. Someone, who, for instance, uses controlling behavior might notice that a horse does not respond positively to such tactics. Horses have very clear-cut boundaries and will not respond to negative actions. Seeing such immediate feedback in a large animal will help someone see how their behavior affects other people as well. The horse provides a mirror through which people can see themselves.
Equine therapy also helps patients process emotions. Substance abuse often stems from past emotional trauma. Years of drug and alcohol abuse also takes its toll on us emotionally and physically. Horse trainer Franklin Levinson says, “We calm down and become more centered and focused when we are with horses.” Being around a 1500 pound horse that is dynamic, powerful and intuitive allows patients to process emotions in a nonverbal way while learning trust and self-confidence. The “calming” effect that horses have on many people helps many to facilitate healing and change. With those who are slow to respond to “talk therapy”, this technique often can work wonders.
“There’s something, about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
Equine Therapy is used more and more in Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Therapy. Here are some of the benefits:
Learn to stop intellectualizing and start feeling
The physicality and immediacy of EAP helps clients “get out of their head” and start feeling true emotions. This is often a huge step in healing.
Horse are nonjudgmental and completely in the moment. The bond between horse and human is sometimes the first real bond someone has as they emerge from the fog of addiction and isolation.
Develop communication skills
Non-verbal communication and body language are very important when doing the exercises in equine therapy. Learning to connect with horses helps us to connect with each other. We learn to spot and respect boundaries.
Learning new skills and learning to trust ourselves allows us to start liking ourselves
Face fears and frustrations
Successfully working with a 1600 lb horse can boost confidence as e overcome fears
Learn how to ask for help
For many, this is a new experience. Knowing how and when to ask for help is an important life skill
Horses, like humans, have distinct personalities and behaviors. Patience and kindness is needed to accomplish the activities.
Learn impulse control
Develop nurturing impulses
Grooming and caring for a horse forms a nurturing bond
“The horse is the perfect mirror, they are very emotional beings; we’re only starting to realise how intelligent they are”
Horses are ideal companions. Sensitive and nonjudgmental, they are in touch with people’s emotions and provide a mirror so we can see how our behaviors and emotions affect others. When Equine Therapy is used to help people trying to heal from addiction, clients learn to process emotions, develop self-reflection and self-confidence. There is no judgment, only honest communication in the present moment. From this point, we can begin to heal.
Ventura Recovery Center is a first rate recovery center where you or your loved ones will receive the highest level of care for their addiction. Everyone staff member is personally invested into the recovery of their clients.
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
Our passion at VRC is to give active adults the tools to regain life from the grips of drug and alcohol addiction. We are located in Thousand Oaks, which is in the Los Angeles area. We serve clients from the southern California region; Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange Counties as well as all around the country.
We are ending drug and alcohol addiction one person at a time, one day at a time.