Equine Assisted Therapy

lunginggirl

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Happy New Year everyone!

I was speaking to a few people at my yard the other day about using my horse for Equine assisted therapy and was wondering if anyone on here has had any experience with this?

My mum is a trained life coach and has offered this to some of her clients with him and they have all really enjoyed the experience but I would like to maybe reach out to more people.

Would love to hear some of peoples experiences and how they achieved this.

Thank you in advance!

x
 

Cortez

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In my experience any of the horses I've had anything to do with that were used for this, or for RDA, were not happy with the experience.
 

Rowreach

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In my experience any of the horses I've had anything to do with that were used for this, or for RDA, were not happy with the experience.
Totally agree with this. It's one of those things that humans benefit greatly from, the animals (whatever variety) not so much. Horses and ponies used in therapy sessions need to be very carefully managed - they can quickly become very shut down. Not so bad with a horse that does a variety of things and minimal therapy sessions, but the tendency is for those quieter animals to be used most, which is not beneficial for them.
 

Kaylum

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We do therapy visits with our ponies and have done for years. We go to different places including dementia cafes, schools and nursing homes. This is very rewarding for all involved. Using a pony to bring back memories to dementia patients. It gets them talking often about their youth. We visited a care home where a girl was in a wheelchair. Our therapy pony very gently put his head on her lap and let her stroke him. These visits start up conversations and interests and bring comfort to people. sago.JPG bed.jpg
 

Ambers Echo

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There is a difference between Pets as Therapy Ponies (PAT ponies) and Equine Assisted Therapy. PAT ponies are those who get taken to care homes etc. EAT horses are used by trained therapists within therapy sessions.

You need totally different types of horses for each.

For RDA/PAT ponies they need to be non-reactive and calm.

For Equine Assisted Therapy you need horses who react as horses - the more of the 'essence' of the horse is still there the better.

EAT therapists are fully trained therapists and they use the horse in a variety of ways within the sessions. I doubt that is what you mean - I assume you are interested in PAT ponies? But if you are interested in EAT I can offer more information.
 

Art Nouveau

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I agree with Ambers Echo. Also as you mention life coaching, then perhaps you're looking at equine assisted learning/coaching and not therapy? To use horses in therapy you should have a mental health qualification, as well as robust training in Equine Assisted Therapy. For equine assisted learning, again a good qualification is recommended so that you are trained and supported in how to deliver effective sessions, how to know where your skill set ends so that you don't accidentally create problems, and how to look after your horses so that they don't become shut down. I'm trained in EAL so if that's the route you're considering then I can help with more information.
 

SEL

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Militaire (in my avatar) has done therapy work with small children with varying disabilities and teenagers with difficulties. Lots of ADHD type disorders. Not with me, as I have no training, but both horses were on livery at a yard that specialised in it and because he was so good at it he used to do a few hours a week.

There were probably about 6 horses at that yard which were a bit special in terms of their ability to work with children who had special needs. M has been trained to follow (so like join up but without the driving them away first - he follows for a stroke on the nose and will stick to you for life for a polo!), so that's a real bonus to kids who have never worked with a horse. Suddenly they have this big over sized shetland mirroring every step they take.

Takes the right horse though.
 

Jellymoon

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I think it’s a lovely idea. I have only had one horse in my lifetime that would have been amazing at that as he loved people and was so gentle and calm, he would stand for hours with his head in your arms. He was amazing with babies and children, and once laid his head in the lap of a disabled boy in a wheelchair. The boy was ecstatic and quite vocal, but the horse just kept his head there with his eyes half shut.
Anyway, my point is, these ones don’t come along very often, all the others I’ve ever had would get bored after a while and do something cheeky and annoying like a nip or a head but! If you have one like that, it would be nice to share him and make some magical moments gif people less fortunate than ourselves. We get to spend hours every day with these amazing creatures!
 

SEL

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Omg. I didn't think I could become even more of a Millitaire fan but I just did. Lol.
He is such a superstar. Got me out of a sticky situation with a teenage lad with behaviour problems once. The yard were not expecting the lad that day so there were no staff around. His carers dropped him off for 'work experience' & didn't bother to come in and check.

Only me and a groom on the yard and in walks the lad - immediately getting agitated because there was no one there and his normal routine went out the window.

Brush Mills suggests a slightly panicky SEL (this lad was v big and I knew some of his background). So he goes into the stable whilst groom rushes off to make a phone call. 30 mins he was in there while big M blew softly on him and the lad leaned on his neck. I swear i could see him calm down before my eyes.

And I could tell you about the gorgeous little 4yo girl with Downs syndrome who led him behind her wheelchair - but that makes me sniffly!!

Or the group of special needs primary school kids who said the highlight of their visit was the big cuddly teddy bear having a wee :rolleyes: Pretty much flooded the yard apparently!

He's very special - I think he missed the kids since we moved yards. Always perks up when children come into the yard which is sweet. Love of my life!!
 

Celtic Fringe

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Old Cob's herd was used for sessions with young carers a while back. This was with therapists who were working with the children and a local horsewoman who had equine therapy training. They always worked with the herd loose in the field so it was the choice of the horse whether to interact or not. There were a couple of horses who always stayed well away but four or five who loved the sessions and would happily join in. The biggest warmblood is incredibly friendly and gentle with small people and was especially good. My young cob who was in the same yard at the time was also very good. Sessions were once a week through part of the summer holidays only.

I'd say that the sessions work well when run jointly with trained therapists (psychologists) AND specific equine therapists who can keep a close eye on the horses and their welfare.
Be very clear about what you will allow the horses to do at the beginning. I once had a major issue when I discovered that they had been using my Old Cob for some ridden sessions (a gentle bareback walk) even though I had previously discussed this and been told that no riding would be involved. At that point I said they could not use him anymore which was a pity as he was very good on the ground. He came to me from a riding school where he had bucked several people off - two of whom ended up with broken limbs. The equine therapist involved knew this and so was extremely unwise (I am being polite here) to put anyone on him.
 

Ambers Echo

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I'd say that the sessions work well when run jointly with trained therapists (psychologists) AND specific equine therapists who can keep a close eye on the horses and their welfare.
When I did my EAT training it was made clear that you need 2 people for each session: the therapist who is paying attention to the clients and running the session and the 'horse professional' whose job it was to focus solely on the needs of the horses in the session. With several loose horses plus clients, you really do need 2 people with different roles.
 

Remi'sMum

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Those of you with experience of EAT, I’d be very interested to know more about this. A close friend has a young horse (5 I think) that he believes would make an excellent therapy horse. This lads ridden career is over due to injury but he is an exceptional ‘people person’ and very well mannered. How could we find out more about whether therapy might be a new career for him? (Sorry to jump on the thread OP!!)
 

Shay

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My daughter (trainee clinical psychologist and BHS stage 3) volunteers with a center specializing in EAP. (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy) The problem is that EAT - therapy - is a catch all term used to describe anything from unqualified / minimally qualified counseling type stuff through to a specialized environment requiring formal qualifications from all involved.

Remi'sMum - the best thing to do is to look up local qualified centers and approach them to see if they would want your lad. IMO you want to opt for the high end fully qualified versions. Some of the things I have witnessed with people who happen to have a horse and lower level life coach type qualifications (I'm sorry OP - I mean no disrespect to your Mum, but compared to a formal mental health qualification it is a different creature) is a bit scary and may well be what is behind Cortez and Rowreach's poor experiences.
 

pansymouse

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I had a pony who I loaned to a therapy centre. He enjoyed working there and was especially good with the PTSD clients however he is a shy little chap and struggled with the noisy bustle of the yard so we had to withdraw him in the end.
 

Remi'sMum

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My daughter (trainee clinical psychologist and BHS stage 3) volunteers with a center specializing in EAP. (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy) The problem is that EAT - therapy - is a catch all term used to describe anything from unqualified / minimally qualified counseling type stuff through to a specialized environment requiring formal qualifications from all involved.

Remi'sMum - the best thing to do is to look up local qualified centers and approach them to see if they would want your lad. IMO you want to opt for the high end fully qualified versions. Some of the things I have witnessed with people who happen to have a horse and lower level life coach type qualifications (I'm sorry OP - I mean no disrespect to your Mum, but compared to a formal mental health qualification it is a different creature) is a bit scary and may well be what is behind Cortez and Rowreach's poor experiences.
Thank you Shay. I’d already started doing sone research into various centres, so fingers crossed.
 
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