How Horses Have Helped Children in Therapy

Animal lovers enjoy the companionship of horses for a plethora of different reasons.  Some love horses because they have a passion for riding or need horses for transportation purposes.  Moreover, some use horses to supplement their income and offer riding lessons.  Others love horseracing or other show competitions.   Many people just love having a graceful and beautiful animal to take care of.

Those are some of the more obviously roles that horses can play in our lives.  Interestingly, we recently learned of an unorthodox capacity that horses have helped humans in.  According to this article from The Saratogian, a newspaper service in Saratoga Springs, NY, horses have been helping teens and preteens in professional therapy.  Nanette Foster, a local stable owner, offers her horses to counselors who are searching for creative ways to help their young patients through trying times.   The therapist is present at the sessions, and the patient interacts with the horse in playful exercises.  During the session, the therapist explores issues out loud and Foster evaluates the body language of the horse and child.  The sessions have helped children open up and allowed them to express their emotions freely.  The horses act as a calming influence and as an indicator to what is ailing the youngster.  Foster feels that the time spent with the horses is a suitable supplement to traditional talk therapy.

Using horses for therapy is not a brand new paradigm.  In fact, it has been an official therapy choice for the last 13 years, after the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association was created.  The non-profit organization strives to use equine therapy to help mental health and developmental needs of humans.

Can re-open the discussion on which animal is truly man’s best friend?