What is Equine-Assisted Therapy?

Contributed by Rene LeMay


According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the definition of equine is “of, relating to or resembling a horse or the horse family.” It follows then, that equine-assisted therapy involves horses. But what, actually is equine-assisted therapy?

There are distinctive types of equine therapy, but they all involve the use of horses. There’s equine-assisted therapy (EAT), equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) and equine-assisted learning (EAL), equine-facilitated learning (EFL) and equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP).

Equine therapy is practiced around the world. Originally used to help patients recover from traumatic injuries, it then became a widely-used therapeutic method to treat physically handicapped individuals. In recent years, equine therapy has branched off into other areas – treating a wide variety of psychological and mental disorders and addiction.

EAP in Addiction Treatment:

Treating addiction is a complex and comprehensive process involving multi-disciplinary programs or modalities. Among the many healing therapies that are available in addiction treatment and rehabilitation centers, equine-assisted psychotherapy has been shown to be beneficial for more than two decades. 

Besides treating addiction, EAP is also useful in addressing issues of co-dependence, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and psychological and emotional issues such as depression, grief, anxiety and anger management. It is especially helpful in helping treat the entire family, since addictions and psychological/emotional problems affect everyone, not just the individual seeking treatment.

EAP is an effective treatment method for:

•    Teaching teamwork, communication and problem solving.
•    Helping individuals face fears, increasing confidence and self-esteem.
•    Providing a safe environment in which to address emotional roadblocks.
•    Developing new ways of interacting socially.
•    Providing challenging, fun and therapeutic healing.

There are several Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy programs in the Mat-Su:

•    Aurora Equine Therapy in Wasilla  www.AuroraEquineTherapy.org
•    Caballada Equine Therapy   Palmer-Wasilla (907)-277-7444
•    Hearts On Fire Equine Therapy – Palmer www.HeartsOnFire4U.org  907-841-4913

To find out more about Equine-Assisted Therapy in the Mat-Su Please join us at the 4-H Horse Symposium on February 18th, 2017 from 10am -2pm. The presentation on Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies will be held from 11am-12pm in Room #1, at the Real Life Church 10697 E. Palmer-Wasilla Highway