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What are the Different Kinds of Equine-Assisted Therapy?

What are the Different Kinds of Equine-Assisted Therapy?

Horses are used in several different types of therapies to assist people experiencing physical, mental or emotional difficulties. At Honey Lake Clinic, equine-assisted therapy can be utilized in conjunction with other forms of therapy as a part of a your overall treatment program.

Equine therapy has become a widely used therapeutic method for treating a variety of psychological, mental, and mood disorders, and even addiction. There are several different types of equine therapy which are popular in practice around the world. Each has aims which correspond well with different client needs and conditions being addressed.

Here is a list of five popular types of equine therapy and their applications:

1. Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Therapeutic horseback riding is typically taught by a riding instructor or horseman who teaches you how to control a horse while riding. It’s used as exercise to improve coordination, balance, posture, muscle tone, confidence, and well-being. The individual is typically taught how to work with the horse on the ground in addition to riding it.

2. Hippotherapy

Hippotherapy is similar to therapeutic horseback riding but it typically also involves an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, or a speech and language therapist. The horse is controlled by a handler and led through several different gaits, tempos, cadences, and directions. The different movements of the horse challenge you to use different postural responses, thereby strengthening the muscles of the rider.

3. Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL)

Through interactions with horses in EAL programs, participants develop a heightened self-awareness, which is important in order to reveal patterns of behavior and give you the chance to think in a new way. The 3 main areas of concentration in EAL are education, professional development, and personal development. Participants gain self-confidence by learning how to work with such large and powerful creatures and learn how non-verbal communication might affect others in their lives.

4. Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)

EAP is the use of horses to treat psychological problems. It is not the same thing as therapeutic riding or hippotherapy. Some programs may incorporate riding and vaulting, but most utilize groundwork with horses, such as grooming, feeding, and ground exercises. Mental health professionals use horses to help their clients learn about themselves and discuss feelings, patterns, and behaviors. The goal is to help in social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral ways.

5. Less-Common Therapies

Other forms of equine therapy include interactive vaulting, therapeutic carriage driving, and Equine-Assisted Activities (EAA), which include horse grooming, stable management, shows, parades, and demonstrations.

Equine-Assisted Therapy at Honey Lake Clinic

There are several nuances within the equine therapy program at Honey Lake which differentiate our program from others. Here are a few to consider—

  • Spiritual truths and principles are applied as clients work towards a point of ‘join up’ or connection with the animal. This aids you in drawing parallels between your own circumstances and your relationship with the horse.
  • Techniques from different models in equine therapy are employed. Whereas many programs follow one model or another, at Honey Lake we employ elements of different equine therapy approaches—and even techniques our experienced therapists and staff have developed—to best meet your individualized treatment plan.
  • Our clients have the opportunity to be a part of a horse’s rehabilitation at Honey Lake. You will find added fulfillment in being a part of the process to help horses move from an equine therapy animal to trail-riding horses, and eventually on their way to a good home.
  • The equine therapy program at Honey Lake can include work with larger draft horses. You will benefit greatly from the opportunity to connect with such powerful, yet gentle creatures.
  • The equine therapy program at Honey Lake is available to most of our clients desiring to try this form of therapy as a part of their overall treatment, even if they have no horse experience.

Equine therapy, used in correlation with other forms of treatment and education, can offer you a deeper awareness of yourself, your feelings, behaviors and interactions with others.

At Honey Lake, we’re committed to providing you with compassionate care and the practical equipping necessary to significantly improve the condition which brought you to our program. A faith-informed model, experienced staff, licensed professional caregivers, individualized treatment—all in a beautiful and tranquil 1300-acre lakeside setting—we’re here for you.

Give us a call today. Honey Lake Clinic (888) 837-6577 email or visit