Every horse lover knows that time spent with a horse can be soothing to the soul. Forms of horse-assisted therapy have been in use for decades and even centuries — there are records of the physical and emotional benefits of horseback riding from the times of the ancient Greeks — but now there is more interest than ever in harnessing the benefits of equine-assisted therapy to help those with physical, mental, and emotional problems.
Types of Therapy
What is equine-assisted therapy, exactly? There are a few different terms and definitions associated with the phrase. In the 20th century equine-assisted therapy focused mostly on helping those with physical impairments or handicaps; the term “hippotherapy” refers to physical rehab on horseback, utilizing the horse as the therapist. However, equine-assisted therapy has expanded to include equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP), which utilizes the psychological benefits of human-horse interaction to achieve specific treatment goals. It also includes equine-assisted learning (EAL), which “emphasizes education and learning specific skills as defined by the individual or group,” according to the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EGALA) website.