Using Horses for Emotional Issues - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 02-08-2014, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Using Horses for Emotional Issues

Hi everyone! I need a little help here from this community :)

I'm working on a research paper in college, and it's on the use of horses and therapeutic riding in the rehabilitation/therapy of adolescents with emotional trauma/baggage/difficulties. The paper will cover the efficiency and effectiveness of working with horses, but the main thrust of it is to provide suggestions for the implementation of a program that could serve as a template for others across the country. I'm undergrad, so I'm not doing any official, original research for the paper, but I am planning on interviewing a psychologist I know who has worked with a child this way (anonymity and personal privacy will be a priority) as well as a few trainers in my area who have seen firsthand the healing power of horses.

All this to give you a sense of background. What I need is to know if there are any facilities around the country that work with adolescents (or even other age groups) and horses to overcome the participants' emotional troubles. This could be past abuse, traumatic events, withdrawal, aggressive behavior, social trouble at school, being on either side of bullying, PTSD, and so on. I'd like to be able to contact one or more of such facilities to get an idea of how the operate, how they secure funding, etc. It is important to me that a facility work with at least some children in a primarily emotional way, as I already have a facility nearby that does physical therapy with children who are physically or mentally disabled. Though the paper will mention the effect of horses on those with mental and physical disabilities, the main focus is the use of horses with those who have emotional baggage or past trauma.

Thank you so much!

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post #2 of 16 Old 02-08-2014, 01:46 PM
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There is a Therapeutic Riding program where I am currently boarding. If you'd like it, I will get the owner's permission to PM you the info. (:

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post #3 of 16 Old 02-08-2014, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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Zexious: thanks, that would be great!

“A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.” CS Lewis
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post #4 of 16 Old 02-08-2014, 02:39 PM
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I've done horse therapy to heal from past trauma, emotional issues, grief, etc. The therapist does it with all ages, but it's not riding. Clients just work with horses on the ground. Did you want just riding therapy?
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post #5 of 16 Old 02-08-2014, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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Hoiski: to clarify; no, it doesn't have to be just riding. I'm including just working with horses from the ground, as from my research groundwork seems to be just as effective in some cases as riding, and it really should be included as a precursor to riding in any case.

“A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.” CS Lewis
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post #6 of 16 Old 02-09-2014, 12:59 AM
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My therapist is EAGALA cerified. You might find some info or contacts here: EAGALA Primary site | The Community Network for People Interested in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning.
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post #7 of 16 Old 02-09-2014, 07:03 AM
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Perhaps there is an association of therapeutic riding places that you could contact and they may have some suggestions? I know the 2 that I have been involved with (my horse works there….lol) have mixed age groups. Everything from young kids to Vets with PTSD.

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post #8 of 16 Old 02-09-2014, 11:58 AM
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Great! I'll shoot you a PM (:

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post #9 of 16 Old 02-09-2014, 02:41 PM
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There is one in Texas that is working with soldiers with PTSD. The soldiers seem to find that when around the horses that is the only time they feel mental quiet. I came across a story of a soldier who returned to suffered seizures. He'd had horses prior to his service so bo't a mare for trail riding. One day while trail riding alone, he had a seizure and toppled off his horse. When he awakened, she was standing over him. He then realized she knew something he didn't because she'd kept hesitating and he'd urged her on. Any time after that he listened to her and would dismount and sit down and wait for the seizure. We hear of dogs doing this but even horses know. We just have to listen to them.
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post #10 of 16 Old 02-09-2014, 05:07 PM
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I'm not in front of my computer, but if you want to pm me, that will help me remember to send you a few research papers on using horses in equine assisted psychotherapy for teens.

At the therapeutic riding center I work for, we are planning to start a program for foster children this fall, to address many of the issues you've asked about. I just did a mini-lit review on this topic to prep a couple of proposals and am happy to share what I know. I'd also suggest using google.scholar and searching for "equine assisted psychotherapy" or "horses and PTSD." While the research on the physical benefits of therapeutic riding is still limited, there is growing research on the emotional and psychosocial benefits.
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