Updated: Feb 12, 2021
Why do we include horses in therapy? Horses are prey animals, which means their genetic makeup is tuned in to protect themselves from predators, so they are highly attuned to their environment and to the herd. This enables them to be incredibly sensitive to non-verbal communication and incongruence (saying one thing but doing another etc). They have amazing intuition about when something is not right, but unlike humans they are non-judgmental, which creates safety and openness.
Horses bring this highly intuitive presence into sessions and will respond to your energy and your "stuff" in the moment. This is the reason that all sessions are ground-based (no riding, no haltering/bridle), because horses need the freedom to interact and respond authentically in the moment.
In addition, horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning. They can become characters in the client's narrative. For example, to the client, one horse may represent "ex-boyfriend" or "old boss" according to how the client projects their story onto the horses, their relationship, and surroundings. This allows the internal (sometimes confusing) parts of the client's story to become externalized and worked through in the here and now.
Equine-assisted sessions always take place at the farm. The treatment team includes myself, Linda Yopp (Equine specialist) and the horses, and sessions are structured to help clients move towards their goals. This is an experiential type of therapy designed to help clients discover, learn and grow from the horse-human relationship. Come experience the power of this modality for yourself!