The size, beauty, and majestic nature of the horse make them both awe inspiring and intimidating at the same time. Its hard to be in the presence of a horse and focus on anything but the moment. This makes horses uniquely suited to experiential therapy and learning, in which a person finds solutions to their problems by engaging in hands on activities.
Horses are social animals with defined roles within a herd. They have distinct personalities, attitudes, and moods. They can be stubborn or they can be playful. In other words, horses are a lot like us! Their herd dynamics and relationships will often stand out to us and create a great metaphor for our own relationships, personalities, learning, and communication styles. This makes experiential therapy with horses an effective treatment for family relationship issues, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, adoptions, and children in foster care.
Horses are highly intelligent prey animals. They have honed the skills of "fight, flight, or freeze" in order to survive in the wild. This makes them particularly attuned to our emotions and effective mirrors of our feelings and attitudes. Does this sound familiar? The traumatized persons brain also responds in "fight, flight, or freeze." As a result, interacting with the horses provides unique insight into coping with trauma, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.
Please check out this video to learn more about using horses for therapy!