Horses As Healers


horse and childAs I mentioned last week, the heroine of my upcoming book Forearmed is a child psychologist who uses horses to work with her troubled clients. Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy is a new and growing field and I thought I’d tell you a little about it today. Mostly I’m going to give you links to some interesting sites, rather than repeat the information given there.

Because horses are prey animals and super sensitive to their environment, they are also ultra aware of the humans around them. My horses can tell instantly what kind of mood I’m in and react accordingly. If I’m upset, and depending on their personality, they can be standoffish until I calm down. If I’m sad and unhappy they may be more lovey and stay close. And interestingly my moods usually shift quite quickly under their influence. I’ve always said that my horses keep me sane (though others may debate that).

Therapists are beginning to use this equine sensitivity to help troubled patients, particularly children and teens. Horses can tell them a lot about what is going on with their clients and help the kids approach the world differently. I’ve helped out at a local clinic and found it fascinating.

Here are links to sites that can tell you a lot more about EFP.

And here’s one that shows how horses can help heal grief.


photo credit: <a href=””>Beverly & Pack</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
Categories: animals, children, Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, healing, Horses, psychotherapy, troubled teens, Uncategorized, using horses to heal | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “Horses As Healers

  1. This is wonderful stuff! I know about physical therapy for disabled children, as my daughter used to volunteer and do that. But even that hippotherapy enormous has emotional and psychological benefits. It’s good someone is directing the therapy this way. Thanks for the post!

    • It is fascinating isn’t it? Something that horse people have known for a long time and now the rest of the world is learning about.

  2. Great insight, Kate. Brownie (a horse) just became a major character in my next book.

  3. vicki

    Thank you, Kare, for sharing the information. I think a lot of animals are very intuitive. Is that picture of child with horse you? Adorable.

    • I agree, I think most animals are intuitive but horses have a special connection because they’re herd animals. And no that isn’t me just a delightful picture I found

  4. Great post. Thanks.

  5. Loved this post!

  6. So glad you wrote about this, Kate! There are so many wonderful programs using horses to heal. I used to help out at a PATH center and the interactions between the horses and the children were amazing to observe. I’ve also seen several incredibly powerful videos from sessions between horses and veterans with PTSD. Made all of us in the room cry.

    • I remember seeing you with a PATH shirt. I’ll bet you really enjoyed working there. The program in my area also works with vets too. So many ways to help.

  7. marsharwest

    Fascinating info, Kate. Thanks for sharing all of this. I’ll share, too. 🙂

  8. Hi Kate,
    Better late than never. I knew that horses were often used for therapy with children and young adults. A close friend of mine had a boy who was quite dyslectic . This friend lives in Bedford, NY- near Greenwich, CT , and at the time, kept two horses housed in their small barn. When her son was 13 or 14 years old (I’m guessing now as it’s been awhile) she sent him to a horseback riding camp in the summer. Then when he came home, he had the two horses at home on which to ride. He became a superb horseman which of course built up his confidence. What better way to do so . . . even if you don’t have a barn and own horses!

    • I’m rather late too. Was traveling. Horses can really help with self-confidence. Glad your friend’s son found a good way to go.

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