In the earlier posts in our “Why horses” blog series, we explored why Equine Assisted Therapy is an effective alternative or supplement to traditional psychotherapy, and how it can help a person repair their relationship with both self and others.
In addition to having a healthy personal identity and creating or recreating healthy relationships, there are several other practical skills that our herd of rescue horses helps instill in our program participants so that they can be productive, healthy members of our community.
- Anxiety reduction: Since anxiety is at the heart of most trauma responses, reduction of anxiety and depression is one of the most important outcomes of Heroes & Horses’ programs. Many studies of human-animal interaction indicate that contact with animals significantly reduces anxiety. Despite some participants initially being afraid of horses, the genuineness and affection of the equine partner draws the participant in and helps them confront and address their anxiety.
- Social skills: Individuals who have endured trauma can often be socially isolated or withdrawn. A positive relationship with a horse is often a first, safe step toward practicing the social skills needed to initiate closer relationships with people.
- Perspective: For a participant who is trying to manage depression or other unhealthy trauma responses, grooming and caring for a horse companion allows them to replace an inward, self-destructive focus with an outward, productive focus.
Horses are majestic, beautiful creatures. At Heroes & Horses, we especially think this about our extra special herd of rescue horses. And these equine beauties are also extraordinary companions for not only their human parents but also for people in need of a partner to help process—and begin healing from—trauma.