While equine therapy has been employed as a more inviting modality for those who are otherwise treatment resistant, can it really be a replacement for traditional talk therapy? Certainly, with substance abuse cases, and with adolescents, practitioners have often relied on the addition of horses to elicit responses that would otherwise not be possible in human encounters. Horses are much less threatening than people, and simply being in their presence can result in a physiological calm, that can then pave the way to effective communication with a therapist. But is equine therapy enough to tackle some of the weighty therapeutic issues people face, or is talking things through with a licensed professional necessary?
Avid equine enthusiasts have long attested to the healing power of horses, and swore by their time with them, yet these people are also familiar with horses, and more than likely not entirely mystified by their responses. In almost an instinct, when a loved horse behaves in particular way, his owner will adjust her behavior accordingly, thereby providing the response that the horse is searching for. As an example, a typically bold horse may suddenly become quite tentative, and require more strength and leadership from his rider. Should the rider not respond with this, the situation would escalate, and perhaps become dangerous. And while this scenario involves some understanding for those not accustomed to horses, it happens in a matter of seconds.