What is Equine Assisted Therapy?

Did you know that owning or spending considerable amounts of time with animals can actually lead to less stress and a longer lifetime? While spending time with animals can be highly satisfying for everyone, it can be even more powerful for those dealing with a number of different conditions including autism, ADHD, PTSD, and more. Equine Assisted Therapy is an extremely effective treatment and process for many. Read on to learn more!

Equine Assisted Therapy

Equine therapy continues to grow as practitioners, families, and individuals across the country see how helpful it is for both physical and emotional problems. As the name suggests, this therapy uses a horse to provide a number of benefits to the rider while the therapy is overseen by a behavioral health worker. 

Riding a horse can help with the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive needs of riders who have special needs. Having a large, strong animal helping with their therapy can make a person feel a higher level of responsibility as well as self-confidence. It can also encourage their emotional regulation so that the horse is not startled. Equine-assisted therapy can also be used for occupational therapy. 

This form of therapy is often a complementary type that is used alongside other therapy types. It can be used as a mental health treatment that can help people with a number of different mental health issues. 


There are several different types of equine therapy, and one of these is hippotherapy. Hippotherapy can be used for a number of reasons, but it is most often used for focusing on physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Riding a horse therapeutically can help with conditions like Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy by helping to make their backs stronger as well as improving their structural health. Hippotherapy can also be used for those that aren’t able to ride as well! In fact, there are many treatment options and benefits that wheelchair-bound children and or those with a physical disability can experience.

The term hippotherapy comes from the word hippo, the ancient Greek term for a horse. In ancient Greece, horse riding for therapeutic reasons was used for the treatment of many different conditions. The modern use of it started in the mid-1900s when hippotherapy started to be used to treat health problems like polio and mental health problems. 

Conditions Treated with Equine-Assisted Therapy

There are many conditions that can be treated with equine-assisted therapy for help with problems and symptoms. One of the most common ways to use equine-assisted therapy is in those with autism, particularly children with the condition.

Equine-assisted therapy is used for many conditions in many different situations including:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • ADHD
  • Eating disorders
  • Learning disabilities 
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Grief
  • PTSD
  • And much more.

The many aspects of riding or simply being around a horse can help to soothe the minds of many people and allow them to find calm and build trust with those around them. Horseback riding can help people to reduce their stress, alleviate symptoms of depression, and can help them to have relationships that are less destructive. It’s been shown that this activity can improve the psychological well-being of those who participate. 

If you’d like to get more information on locating equine-assisted therapy or hippotherapy resources, check out our community – Hippotherapy Hub – today!

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