Horse organizations across the country have created riding centers to heal both physical and mental traumas. Oftentimes, these organizations operate on a shoe string budget and rely heavily on volunteers to complete their life-changing work.
In an effort to help, we have created this educational guide to help you understand how a equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) or equine therapy horse center may be able to help you or a loved one. Plus, we are working to add profiles of locations across the country so you can find a center in your home state.
Hippotherapy – This medical treatment uses the movement of the horse during riding to improve an individual’s sensory processing. This type of therapy may help people with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, developmental delay, stroke, traumatic brain injury, autism, and learning/language difficulties. Usually, two helpers will walk on either side of the rider to offer support during the session. A doctor’s prescription is often part of this treatment and it may be covered by health insurance. Learn more at the American Hippotherapy Association
Therapeutic Riding – Riders in this type of recreational program will go beyond just the “movement” of the horse to learn about the care and riding of horses. Just spending time with these animals can bring about a sense of peace and purpose for people from troubled backgrounds. Learn more at the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH, Inc.)
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) – “At risk” youth get the chance to interact with horses on the ground rather than on horseback. According to the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), this technique “incorporates horses experientially for mental and behavioral health therapy and personal development. It is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address treatment goals.” The goal is to help with communication, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem solving, team work, responsibility, leadership, relationships, confidence, and learning to have a good attitude to accomplish a task.
Veteran Programs – Many therapeutic riding programs enjoy helping U.S. Veterans recovering from PTSD or looking for a positive activity for stress management. Veterans will learn to care for and ride horses.
Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) - This umbrella term is often used to describe all ways that horses can be used to benefit people both physically and emotionally -- including both medical and non-medical treatment facilities. It's important to understand that oftentime true "therapy" is a medical treatment with specially trained staff. It can even be covered under your medical insurance! Other facilities may offer horse activities that do not fall under the true scope of a medical "therapy."
Be sure to check with your individual program to learn the specifics of their classes.
Check out this article we wrote about the Healing Power of Horses. It profiles a group called Healing Hearts With Horses in Runnells, Iowa. They have several powerful stories of how horses are changing people’s lives for the better – each and every day!
Thank you for your support in this project.
If you would like to recommend a center for addition to this list, please contact us at email@example.com.
Find an Equine Therapy or Therapeutic Riding Center provider in your home state.
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