September 26

How Horses Address Psychosocial Needs

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland flag icon
Reading time 3 min.

The hippotherapy setting and practice model incorporates a multisensory environment appealing to a variety of psychosocial needs. Humans have long been connected to horses, with the first domestication occurring on the Eurasian steppes 4,000 to 6,000 years ago. New evidence suggests our history together could begin closer to 10,000 years ago with a broader geographic reach (Cohen, 2012). Horses have been used for food, warfare, transportation and companionship; they played a critical role in building the American frontier (Cohen, 2012). Our equine partners have a long and storied history in human hearts and minds. In equine assisted occupational therapy, the horse is a multisensory, movement oriented, dynamic system used as a treatment tool. The psychological impact of this huge, sensory rich animal as an equal and separate other plays a crucial role in the treatment’s effectiveness.

At My Heroes Hippotherapy in Fort Collins, CO, the horse facilitates psychosocial growth in addition to a variety of new physical skills. During hippotherapy sessions, the simple existence of therapy in a barn setting changes the typical dynamic. Clients are no longer under fluorescent clinic lights and a plastic gym environment; they are invited to be outside in the fresh air among horses, peers, and the natural world. This is a multisensory experience; warm bodies, dirt, dust, wind, barn smells, varied terrain, plants, nickering and whinnying… the list goes on. The need for language is reduced as clients interact on many levels; physically, emotionally, spiritually. The horse is a non-verbal partner (Granados & Agis, 2011). Clients observe horse behavior, think about their own behavior, and react in relationship to the animal (Granados & Agis, 2011), fostering interactions that may not otherwise transpire in a strictly human environment. The horse is a non-judgmental partner; clients experience a release of endorphins contributing to motivation and satisfaction (Granados & Agis, 2011). Clients develop a new sense of control and awareness in their body while riding as the horse’s gait facilitates gentle movement, contributing to increased self-esteem and self-efficacy. One My Heroes caregiver recently reported her 3-year old girl to be more confident and adventurous, leading to greater social participation (My Heroes client caregiver, personal communications, November 2, 2017). The client-horse bond naturally facilitates a variety of psychosocial qualities including trust, safety, judgment, respect, security, love, autonomy, and self-control (Granados & Agis, 2011). Relationships created between clients and horses in the barn create an environment ripe for therapeutic outcomes; psychosocial, biomechanical and beyond. Finally, My Heroes is dedicated to creating a community oriented, inclusive, and family friendly atmosphere. My Heroes thrives on a volunteer staff who interact with clients; they sponsor community events like the annual Trick or Treat Street to foster social participation, interaction and relationship building with all members of the Fort Collins community.

The horse-human relationship and barn environment vastly outpace the psychosocial adaptations and efforts of most clinical settings I’ve experienced on fieldwork. Horses require a specific pace, timing, and feel that builds bonds and grounds us as human beings in a way not otherwise recreated in the clinical setting. I believe deeply in the therapeutic power of the natural world, and this rotation has been no exception. Anecdotally, I have witnessed more spontaneous language from clients when riding outside and interacting with the wind, birds, trees, and horses. Someday I hope to contribute to the growing body of literature supporting these outcomes by conducting clinical trials and research studies of my own. Horses do not care if their human companion is disabled or different-bodied, they are curious and interactive just the same, thus levelling the playing field of social and psychological inclusion. The focus of a hippotherapy session is not on a problem or deficit to be fixed, but on the novelty and privilege of being an equestrian; basically, belonging to a community and practice larger than the individual. Horses are a powerful holistic treatment tool who have much to offer their human partners of all sizes, shapes, and abilities.

References

Cohen, J. (2009, January). Horse domestication happened across Eurasia, study shows. History. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/news/horse-domestication-happened-across-eurasia-study-shows

Granados, A.C. & Agis, I.F. (2011). Why children with special needs feel better with hippotherapy sessions: A conceptual review. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, 17, 191-197. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0229

Comments

Leave your questions here

To write a comment you must
or
Services
Category filter
Concern filter
Type filter
Sort
 
All categories
Shamanic Healing
$10 USD
Light the Path to Your Desired Life

If you want find what is that in life that makes you happy and fulfilled you need to heal all levels of your existence- Body, Mind, and Spirit. We are all ener…

Change Naturopathy
New Zealand flag icon
Emotional Freedom Technique
$10 USD
The Power Of Emotional Healing - EFT Program

“The Power of Emotional Healing” is energy psychology education in the Emotional Freedom Technique with the perfect balance of information, instructions, video…

Dawn Cady
Australia flag icon
Art Therapy
$50 USD
Artist Teacher Workshop Or Tutoring

“Life Force” guiding our history, our body and spirits. Self portrait art, life drawing from the live model, gesture, and plein air painting. And extended cont…

Bryan Prillwitz
United States of America flag icon
Tarot Reading
$100 USD
Timeline Reading

EGYPTIAN TAROT READINGS using unique methods developed by Nelise Carbonare, a Brazilian healer with more than 40 years of experience in tarot consultations, as…

Nelise Carbonare
United States of America flag icon
Tarot Reading
$120 USD
THE SYNERGY OF THE PYRAMID

THE SYNERGY OF THE PYRAMID focuses on a specific relationship: One side for the consultant and one for their partner. (the partner does not need to be present …

Nelise Carbonare
United States of America flag icon
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Pick one card

Many questions can be answer with just one Arcane.

Do you want to try?

Nelise Carbonare
United States of America flag icon
Personal Development Coaching
$50 USD
Spiritual Coaching - Removing Energy Blocks - Expansion

> “Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens.” Jung

Spiritual coaching is about moving you into a profound state of empowerment and involution m…

Kimla Rose (Kim Desrosiers)
United States of America flag icon
Life Coaching
$10 USD
Life Purpose and Soul Wisdom

What is your deeper truth, your deeper knowing, your MOJO, your deepest desires, those feelings that you can’t explain but that are so pure and so clear…or may…

Anna Beale
United States of America flag icon
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Your Missing Manual for Health & Life!

Are you constantly reading books, blogs and listening to podcasts trying to figure out what to do to be healthy?

With so much conflicting information out ther…

Pamela Malo
United States of America flag icon
Nutritional Therapy
$150 USD
Nutritional Therapy Consultation

Hi my name is Aria and I am the founder of Heal with Nutrition. I am a registered Nutritional Therapist and a Naturopath who has a passion on Nutrition and Hea…

Aria Alexandrou
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland flag icon
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
THOTH AND HERMETIC DECKS READING

With a deep knowledge of hermeticism and being introduced to the kabbalah tradition of the emanation process from the tree of life, I provide a deep insight co…

James Marchiori
Ireland flag icon
Personal Development Coaching
$55 USD
The Bridge to Your Desired Life

This is were you get real help with your struggles and life challenges. As life gets harder to cope with, we tend to look for external ways to get through. And…

Mina Mikhail
United States of America flag icon
Naturopathy
$10 USD
Intake Consult

short introduction consult to Integrative Medicine

Femke Neervoort
Netherlands flag icon
Career Coaching
$300 USD
Reset Coaching and Mentoring Programme

12 weeks of bi-weekly 90 minutes 1:1 Coaching and Mentoring. Total cost USD1800 (6x90minutes career coaching and mentoring session)

Are you returning to work …

Carla Martins
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland flag icon
Personal Development Coaching
$120 USD
Spiritual Life Coach Session-Personalized Session

Personalized Sessions

Because Everyone Is Unique

Client-centered sessions based on the area of focus requested by the client.

Each session is a LIVE Sessio…

Deborah Lucero
United States of America flag icon
Reiki
$55 USD
Guidance, Inspiration & Healing

This type of session is a favorite among many of my clients, as it is often times one of the smoothest way to address a challenge to reach a happier and health…

Mina Mikhail
United States of America flag icon
Mediumism
$10 USD
Psychic Readings

I specialize in love, past present future, future, past life, general, tarot, dream interpretation, specific, social, and career readings! Book today for clari…

Holly
United States of America flag icon
Life Coaching
$399 USD
1-on-1 Coaching

The journey started with our discovery call, and You decided: ” I’m ready! Let’s do this!”.

We will engage in 1-on-1 coaching sessions for 90 minutes. In this…

Carla Martins
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland flag icon
Ascension
$88 USD
Ascension Mentor Support

In this session, we come together with similar to a healing session but face to face.

We talk about what issues you are facing at the moment and we delve deep…

Claire C.
Australia flag icon
Spiritual Healing
$177 USD
Energy Healing

I am honored to assist you with intuitive channeled energy healings that support and nurture you on a physical level as well soul and energetic level, each ses…

Claire C.
Australia flag icon
Reiki
$375 USD
Usui Reiki 1st Degree Course

FIRST DEGREE COURSE - The ultimate Reiki course.

Have you ever wondered if you can heal? Have you felt a burning desire to help others? Then you’ve come to th…

Step Into Your Light - Christina Moore
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland flag icon
Life Coaching
$10 USD
Hand Analysis - Startup Session

What does a hand analysis do for me? ​

You will understand yourself and your life purpose. ​You will understand the roots of your triggers and reactionary be…

Brent Bruning, Master Hand Analyst
Switzerland flag icon
Shamanism
$10 USD
Sample Akashic Records Reading for Your Burning Issue

I connect to your Akashic Records and listen to what your guides want to bring to your conscoius attention at this time. Perhaps, it is an insight into why you…

Olga Aydınoğlu
Turkey flag icon
Shamanic Healing
$300 USD
Shamanic Healing Art

What is Shamanic Healing Art?

It is a physical artwork (usually a pastel drawing) I make for you based on the outcome of our online session. This artwork will…

Olga Aydınoğlu
Turkey flag icon

Related Articles