What is Equine-Assisted Therapy?
Equine-assisted therapy incorporates activities involving horses, including grooming, groundwork and horseback riding, into mental health or physical injury rehabilitation. The activities are designed to provide the opportunity for veterans to set and achieve skills-based goals, and to create relationships with the horses and with fellow veterans, allowing them to build their confidence, stability and connections. The instructors at WarHorses for Heroes carefully design their activities with mental health professionals, our horses, and our clients to best help the heroes of our country heal, both emotionally and physically.
Equine-Assisted Therapy Benefits Veterans with Mental Illness
As a therapy partner for those with mental illness, a horse is intuitive and non-judgmental, providing a trusting and open environment for processing and healing. Working towards measurable and achievable goals in a lesson program provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and helping other veterans and working alongside them allows veterans to experience different roles and build new relationships. This is often an important step towards rebuilding hope and stability after trauma.
Veterans with histories of depression or PTSD who participate in equine assisted therapy experience consistent improvement in depression symptoms and increased sociability.
Equine-Assisted Therapy Benefits Veterans with Physical Disabilities
Horseback riding benefits the rehabilitation process because the rhythm of a horse’s gait is similar to that of a human’s. It provides the sensation of movement to those with severe injuries affecting mobility.
Veterans with spinal cord injuries or other physical disabilities experience improved muscle strength and better balance after participating in equine assisted therapy programs.