An Equine Therapy program promotes self-confidence and individuals served form a sense of ability by learning how to interact and work with the horses. The attachments and relationships they build with the horses they ride and care for are valuable, and this behavior, is then expanded to include staff, coworkers and family members.
"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." - Winston Churchill
Fossil evidence indicates an association between humans and animals dating back to at least half a million years ago. The practice of utilizing animals as a part of therapy dates back to the late 18th century, when animals were introduced into mental institutions to help socialize patients with Developmental Disabilities. Only recently, however, have scientists begun to create a term for this endeavor, Animal-Assisted Therapy. AAT revolves around specific, individualized goals for each practitioner for their level of ability. Human-animal interactions can remarkably enhance a person’s physical health and psychological wellbeing.
These benefits experienced by individuals with developmental disabilities, are also due to the special relationship they develop with the horse. The horses are specifically chosen and trained to be gentle, patient, and calm. The unconditional, non-judgmental aspect of the bond between the horse and the individual encourages them to form an attachment and interaction with another living being, which can be difficult for some individuals with Developmental Disabilities. One of the greatest benefits from this type of therapy is the enjoyment individuals get out of it. They don't even realize that they are participating in a therapeutic activity - it's just a lot of fun!