Some ways that equine-assisted therapy helps children

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Scecina Director of Counseling Patty Hagen describes how equine-assisted therapy helps children and adolescents.

  • When trust is established, horses give their human unconditional positive regard. Horses don’t care if someone earned an “F” on their math test.
  • Because the horse is so strong and powerful, the human must trust the horse to maintain their calm and not hurt the human, and because the human has control over the horse, the horse must trust the human to not lead them into trouble or hurt them. Trust is critical and must be on both parts. This is difficult for both parties especially for those who have been hurt or have experienced loss.
  • With unconditional positive regard from a living being, with learning to trust, and with the development of a relationship with a living being who mirrors emotions, those emotions can be processed in a safe space.
  • In addition to this, horses travel in herds. If you watch horses in a ring, more than one or two, you would see how they move in patterns. These patterns — where you can see horses relating to each other, leaving one out, moving in two’s and three’s — are all behaviors of a herd who travel together as a survival technique. You can see who the leader is, who is passive, who is the best friend, who gets left out. They move in ways that help people tell their own stories.


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