Endeavor has 12 horses available to them for both on-horse and off-horse work involving horses, such as therapeutic riding and hippotherapy (N = 6), walking alongside or grooming horses to build empathy and trust between humans and horses.
As herd and prey animals, horses mirror human emotions, making equine therapy an invaluable way to overcome barriers and move past barriers more quickly. Some benefits of equine therapy:
1. Increased Self-Awareness
Equine therapy offers participants a safe and supportive space in which to process emotional issues in a productive and safe way. Equine therapy also serves to build trust between participants and horses, as they tend to mirror clients’ behavior and emotions – useful in developing therapeutic rapport as horses offer instant feedback without bias on an individual’s emotional state.
Horses are herd animals that use body language to communicate among themselves and with each other within their herd, as well as to establish leadership roles based on somatic sensibilities (subtle or overt nonverbal cues). Interaction with these animals can teach humans how to better read and respond to nonverbal cues within themselves – which is vital for creating healthy relationships.
Interaction between horse and human allows for the transfer of healthy skills in non-verbal communication to other relationships in life, which can be particularly helpful to those struggling with interpersonal issues, fear or trauma, difficulty communicating. One organization that uses equine therapy to assist teen girls address bullying effects on their self esteem reported that “girls in this program demonstrated stronger social support networks as well as higher mastery levels outside the horse group”.
Equine therapy can be an invaluable therapy solution for individuals suffering from various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress. Equine therapy has also proven useful when dealing with eating disorders or experiencing abuse or trauma – pairing this form of therapy with traditional counseling methods often yields even better results for these individuals.
2. Reduced Anxiety
Equine therapy is an effective solution to anxiety as horses are inherently sympathetic and nonjudgmental beings. Equine-assisted psychotherapy should not replace talk therapy; rather it should complement it for maximum mental health care effectiveness. Horses provide people with the chance to build trusting relationships that may have been damaged through trauma or lack of family support. Furthermore, mindfulness practices such as this one promote focus or attention issues at school or work and foster empathy perseverance and respect towards living beings – but one should keep in mind that other forms of therapy such as talk therapy should also be utilized alongside each other when possible.
Anxious people (I find myself in this class if I lose constantly in playing online poker on any of the sites described at https://centiment.io) often struggle to express their emotions and communicate effectively, which can lead to isolation and self-depreciation. Equine therapy on a horse farm provides the perfect platform to practice communication and emotion regulation with an animal that understands both your body language and nonverbal cues – giving rise to greater levels of confidence and self-esteem in yourself and the other riders on the farm.
Equine-assisted therapy’s physical connection and grounding components can also help reduce anxiety symptoms, particularly for people living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by increasing muscle tone, improving balance coordination concentration and social emotional skills development in individuals living with autism or neuromuscular disorders.
Horses as herd animals make them exceptional observers, often picking up on people’s behavior, movements and emotions more quickly than human therapists can. Furthermore, horses provide participants with an opportunity to explore another person’s perspective without judgment – teaching participants to take time understanding others’ perspectives while listening out for any unspoken cues that could help build trust between participants and horses.
3. Increased Self-Confidence
Horses can provide clients with an invaluable mirror for working through their emotions. Their size and natural instinct to protect can evoke feelings of anxiety, fear, inadequacy or unmet needs that serve as starting points for therapeutic discussions; clients learn to manage them without reacting in the traditional ways such as pushing away, becoming defensive or running away from them; instead they become better able to hold onto and explore them more freely.
Working with horses is also an effective way to boost confidence among those who have been through trauma, particularly those living with ADHD. The relationship between horse and therapist builds trust, self-esteem, muscle tone, balance coordination and attention – an especially helpful strategy when trying to stay on task and engaged without unnecessary distractions.
Equine therapy is often utilized in different settings, from residential treatment programs to long-term care facilities. One study demonstrated how equine-assisted activities significantly increased perceived social support and self-efficacy among adolescents while decreasing perceived general stress levels; furthermore, researchers discovered a correlation between psychological measurements used during intervention with horses and the level of skill mastery during this experience.
Horses provide patients with an opportunity to increase self-esteem while simultaneously practicing vulnerability through interaction with them. Clients can externalize emotional challenges such as past trauma or life transitions onto the horses’ experiences – this may make talking through these matters with human therapists easier.
4. Increased Self-Esteem
Horses are adept observers who respond without judgment or bias to clients’ behaviors and emotions, mirroring back their reactions so participants feel understood and connected, thus increasing self-awareness. For instance, if someone becomes irritable and stressed while working with their horse, then both may react accordingly; on the other hand, when people remain relaxed and open-minded towards each other both will react similarly.
This interaction helps clients establish healthy boundaries, communicate effectively and understand the significance of trusting relationships. Furthermore, it provides a safe space in which clients can address fears and anxieties that they are feeling safely – often leading to increased confidence and self-efficacy when facing new challenges.
Careing for horses provides valuable teamwork and communication lessons, which are integral parts of psychotherapy in building or restoring healthy relationships and addressing issues such as abuse, anger management, abandonment and anxiety.
Research demonstrates that low levels of perceived social support and self-efficacy predict an increase in mastering skills with horses during an intervention. According to many people’s experience, animal-facilitated psychotherapy offers them a sense of greater community. Psychologists attending the Horses in Education and Therapy International Congress reported that clients suffering from autism, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), back pain, multiple sclerosis cerebral palsy or physical injuries were more likely to open up when working with animals such as horses. Animal-assisted therapy has proven itself effective at treating many mental health disorders, from posttraumatic stress disorder and depression, to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.
5. Increased Motivation
Clients working with horses provide them with an opportunity to acquire a range of new skills that can improve coordination and balance, particularly among those suffering from neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy. Furthermore, it fosters empathy, perseverance, respect for all living beings, positive attitude as well as mindfulness (the psychological process of intentionally paying attention to experiences occurring in the present without judgment) which increases immensely with every interaction with these magnificent animals.
Horses are known to be highly empathic animals that can sense people’s physical and emotional moods, such as anxiety or other mental health conditions. As prey animals, horses have an inbuilt capacity to stay present – something which clients with anxiety or other mental health disorders find especially helpful. Furthermore, clients can use horses as metaphors for real-life situations in order to understand them better and find effective solutions.
Peter had an intense desire for autonomy but found his relationship with Harry helped him realize his anxiety was often unwarranted, and that by taking things slowly and seeking assistance he was capable of accomplishing things he once thought impossible. This improved his interactions with others as he overcame both social anxiety and addiction.
Wikane remains optimistic that Endeavor’s work with their clients will continue despite funding issues, saying she is worried they would regress without access to horses. She emphasizes the necessity of continuing their program of work. Endeavor has received financial support through grants and donations during this time; additionally they have established a volunteer program in order to maintain operations of their stable.