EQUINE ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
Equine assisted therapy is an holistic, experiential and highly specialised form of therapy that involves working in collaboration with one of my beautiful rescue horses Merrily, Sweetheart, Poppet, Mozart or Benjamin Button.
During sessions, you don’t actually ride the horse. Instead, you carry out tasks such as feeding, grooming and leading the horse. As your therapist and equestrian professional I plan specific tasks or ‘obstacles’ that support the overcoming of challenges within our plan made to enable you to attain your therapeutic goals. After sessions, you have the chance to discuss your experiences and emotions with me that working with your equine healing partner brought up.
Ultimately, the aim of equine therapy is to help you to discover more about yourself, develop new ways of thinking and change any negative behaviours.
What is the goal of equine therapy?
At the beginning, your equine therapy sessions will focus on helping you overcome any initial uneasiness, empowering you to develop and nurture your relationship with the horse.
Working with horses requires patience, understanding, discipline and responsibility. Horses live in the now and it is important to be flexible, innovative and open to altering your behaviour in response to how they turn up 'today'. In other words, what side of the coral did they wake up on this morning? I teach you to be sensitive to their emotions and not to assume they are today how they were yesterday.
By working through equine therapy, you can develop skills such as communication, self-control, problem solving and accountability, as well as improving your self-esteem, empathy, flexibility and independence.
It gives you the opportunity to discover more about your capabilities, develop new ways of thinking and change negative behaviours. For example, by working with the horse, you may start to notice self-defeating thought processes or negative patterns of behaviour which may be contributing to your issue, giving you the opportunity to take steps to overcome it.
What are the benefits of equine therapy?
Many of the benefits of equine therapy are likely due to the nature of the horses themselves. Horses are naturally gentle and calm creatures, and are able to mirror and respond to human behaviour, meaning that they are highly effective at interacting and working with others in a patient and non-judgemental manner.
Those who struggle to articulate how they’re feeling often find equine therapy useful as they’re able to express their emotions and feelings with their horse. In addition, individuals who find it hard to trust others or be intimate with people, can often achieve a strong bond and a level of closeness with their horse and experience affection, acceptance and mutual respect.
Equine therapy doesn’t just result in psychological benefits - it has physical benefits too. Equine therapy has been found to reduce people’s blood pressure and heart rate and help to calm physical symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression.
There are a number of aspects to equine assisted therapy. First of all, it’s coming out into the beautiful environment and being with lovely animals. Other aspects of it are about interacting with another species, a prey animal that is not a direct line thinker like humans are and helping and supporting them being prey animals, and we being predators, that is a boundary we as humans must relinquish from the outset to garner their trust.
After all, horses are natural claustrophobics and panicaholics to varying degrees. They know through their DNA that from the fact our eyes on on the front of our faces, that we have claws (fingers) that we are predators and predators eat prey.
That's a place to start with in a relationship isn't it?
This is done in my horse barn therapy stable or out in the arena.
"Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop." Rumi