Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is one of the current trends in treatment. It relies on the interaction between a patient and a trained animal. Professionals perform AAT to help patients with physical, mental, or emotional illnesses. Animals used in AAT vary depending on the needs of the patient — from dogs to dolphins, and horses which the Greeks have been using since the 17th century.
Equine therapy uses horses to help improve the progress of patients with various illnesses. Carusrecovery.com says that an equine therapy program includes grooming, handling, and feeding of the horses.
But there’s more to choosing horses as a therapy partner. These are the reasons.
Horses are intelligent creatures that can quickly respond to humans. They sense human emotions, understand body language, and act accordingly. Such ability allows the patient to recognize his or her own behavior through the horse’s similar actions. This trait is useful for people with mood disorders, autism, and behavioral problems.
Patients in physical therapy can benefit from interaction with horses. Therapeutic horseback riding helps individuals who are recovering from conditions like stroke and spinal cord injury. Horses can match the pace of their human partner. The patient, then, gradually gains muscle control, support, and stability.
The horse’s presence also helps overcome fears. Being able to approach an animal of its size can give the patient confidence and optimism. This kind of therapy is suitable for people healing from traumatic conditions and experiences.
Many rehabilitation facilities include equine therapy in their services. It’s an excellent alternative to other programs that may not be that effective for particular patients. The relationships patients create with these animals appear to be the most beneficial kind: no judgment, no questions, and just unrequited support.
These interactions bring improvements. The patients become more self-aware, more confident, and more open to their loved ones and other people. And the best part: patients don’t feel like they’re undergoing therapy at all.