Why are horses good for therapy?

Horses are prey animals and as such have a significantly heightened awareness to environmental factors and energy levels exhibited by other animals around them, not just other horses. Survival for a horse is principally about instinctive reaction, a comparable state of mind to those who have operated in a war zone.

Horses reactions are a silent, honest and dispassionate response the emotions of those around them. Horses respond negatively to negative emotions. They respond positively to positive emotions. They do not have agendas, nor intentionally mislead. Through facilitated interaction with horses metaphoric and impartial input can be applied as a complement to conventional therapy, and creates a non-threatening environment for revealing and accepting the authentic self.

This unbiased and immediate feedback can quickly draw out the heart of issues, Dr. Laurie Sullivan-Sakeada, a US Clinical Psychologist Practising in this field explains, “The horses are therapeutic and interactive tools that speed up the therapy process substantially …. one session of EAP in the barn is equal to five sessions “on the couch.”

One leading US horse trainer working with the Horses for Heroes therapy programme succinctly describes the horse as “1200 lbs of lie detector”. The subtle and wide ranging expressions that are portrayed through the horse’s body language provides immediate direct feedback and instruction to Veteran delegates, handlers and therapists alike.

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