June 23, 2021
Top Benefits of Equine Therapy for Teens
Here at Turn-About Ranch, we have been using equine therapy to help struggling teens learn the value of patience, focus, connection, and commitment. We have found that equine therapy is a powerful treatment that has helped many of our students progress. Nevertheless, there are some questions that still remain unanswered, such as, what is equine therapy, how does it work, and what are the benefits?
What is Equine Therapy?
Equine therapy is a type of therapy that uses horses to reach therapeutic goals. Typically, people will engage in activities with their horses, such as feeding, grooming, and leading. All while being supervised by a professional.
Over the years, equine therapy has grown increasingly popular due to its experiential approach and how effective the results have been. Many people who struggle emotionally have found comfort from interacting with animals, so it’s not too surprising that we are now seeing the benefits of using them in a therapy setting.
Types of Equine Therapy
There are several different types of equine therapy, all with different end goals. The types of therapy include:
- Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP): EAP helps individuals with psychotherapy treatment goals.
- Equine-Assisted Learning Therapy (EAL): EAL focuses on helping individuals develop essential life skills.
- Hippotherapy: Hippotherapy helps individuals with occupational, speech, and psychical therapy.
Through our horsemanship program, we hope that our students will learn the value of patience, focus, and connection. We bring in licensed horsemanship experts to help our students understand the horse’s needs and behaviors, teaching our students practical application and critical life skills.
How Does it Work?
Equine therapy can involve more than just horseback riding. Typically, the therapist leading the session will give the participant goals they want to see them fulfill, such as leading the horse or putting a halter on the horse. After finishing their tasks to the best of their abilities, they will then discuss their thought process, ideas, and problem-solving that went into completing the task.
One of the main goals of equine therapy is to help those struggling to find ways to connect emotionally. Studies have shown that animal-assisted therapies can help reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and help individuals cognitively.
Our Horsemanship Program
Turn-about ranch uses real horsemanship experts to use practical application that teaches our teens critical life skills. In our program, each student will be assigned a horse that they will care for and work with. During this time students will learn about horse anatomy, safety, care, and riding skills. Students will also get the opportunity to ride their horses in our corrals and out on our nearby mountain trails here in beautiful Escalante, Utah. Because of our real ranch environment, your student is likely to gain more hands-on experience and exposure to horses than many outpatient equine therapy programs.
We hope that our students will learn how their thoughts, feelings, and actions affect those around them. We want to see our students gain these critical life skills, so they can develop into strong, successful people.
Benefits of Using Equine Therapy
Equine therapy is just as effective with teenagers as it is with adults. Just like adults, teenagers also experience many different types of challenges. In fact, many of our students have dealt with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other significant issues.
Equine therapy offers students a therapeutic environment that feels more inviting and natural than the traditional talk therapy office. Though we do offer individual and group therapy here at the ranch, we have found that working with horses helps students progress through their treatment. We often see teens finding it difficult to open up and talk about painful emotions and experiences, but by adding the additional support of these horses, the path to overcoming becomes more of a welcoming experience.
Some of the benefits we see from equine therapy are:
We often see that during therapy sessions our students find themselves vulnerable when opening up about their life challenges. Externalizing in this way can make things much easier to process.
Mirroring and Feedback
Horses are keen observers and are sensitive to both movement and emotions. They will often mirror the student’s behavior, conveying a connection and understanding between the horse and student. Due to this connection, we often see students maintain self-awareness, using the horse’s behavior for feedback. This is a great way for them to see what is happening in the movement, and see how their actions affect others.
Other Benefits of Equine Therapy for Teens
Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of success come from using equine therapy in our program. Some of the things we have seen from our students are increased:
- Impulse Control
- Social Awareness
- Social Relationships
- Social Responsibility
- Emotional Awareness
These are just a few of the improvements we’ve seen when it comes to students who genuinely participate in our horsemanship program. We’ve also seen benefits from establishing routines when caring for these horses. The act of caring and nurturing often helps our students build empathy and helps them with their long-term success.
Turn-About Ranch Can Help
Over the years we have worked with many teens, helping them with any issues they may have. It is our goal to help them cope and grow in a safe supportive environment. If you believe that your teen could benefit from equine therapy, talk to their therapist and give us a call at (800) 824-1165.