The use of horses as part of treatment can help people achieve growth in their emotional and personal lives, particularly if their priorities have become unclear. When used as part of a substance abuse program, equine therapy for addiction can significantly benefit some individuals. It has been known to show positive results with some people who had limited success with other treatment forms like counseling or twelve-step programs.

At Beachway Therapy Center, equine therapy is just one of the many services we provide. We believe that the most effective treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction must be multi-faceted to address all of the underlying root causes. A holistic and all-encompassing approach that is individually tailored for each patient is the best way to achieve a successful recovery. Some of the other holistic therapies we offer include psychodrama therapy, art therapy, and music therapy.

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A History of Equine Therapy

Therapeutic riding was first introduced to treat certain orthopedic conditions in Germany. Patients would be matched with a physiotherapist and a horse trainer for a year to improve their condition and strength.

The popularity of equine therapy for addiction gradually grew and soon reached American shores. In 1969, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl) was founded in the US to provide a range of equine-related therapies for those with disabilities. In 1999, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) were formed to focus on the potential mental and emotional health benefits of equine therapy for drug abuse.

Why Equine Therapy?

Animals have long been known to have beneficial therapeutic qualities. Most of us have seen how spending time with cats or dogs can reduce stress, cheer someone up, and even relieve pain. The same is true of horses.

Spending time with the horse provides a recovering addict with something positive to focus on. Over the course of their equine therapy session, they learn to be responsible for the horse and adhere to a regular schedule.

As individuals continue to work with horses in a therapeutic setting, they gain a greater sense of self-worth and self-confidence. This is particularly important since many of those who have struggled with addiction lack self-confidence and feel inadequate. They begin to form a bond with the horse, eventually earning its trust and unconditional love. The experience can be overwhelming and life-affirming.

How Equine Therapy Works