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Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies: Benefits & Indications

Equine assisted activities and therapies are much more effective than traditional therapies because the horse’s rhythmic movement is very close to human motion.  Horses are also very intuitive and bond closely with humans. Best of all, the horses make therapy fun and engaging!   Clients, parents, teachers, and medical professionals note considerable improvements in activities of daily living, attention, balance, cognition, coordination, empowerment, endurance, life skills, motor control, posture,respiration, self-esteem, self-regulation, sleep, speech, strength, tone, transitions, trust, and well-being from MAC equine assisted activities and therapies at the Haven.

Unique benefits of equine assisted activities and therapies:

  • Equine movement provides a rhythmic, tri-planar pattern of movement through space that is similar to human pelvic motion during gait; promoting normal postural responses and core strength development.
  • Equines’ dynamic surface facilitates physical, neurologic, sensory, mental, and cognitive therapeutic benefits.  Every step the horse takes provides neuromuscular and sensory input in a tri-planar motion.
  • Equine assisted therapy sensory and movement conditions can be graded to provide appropriate sensorimotor input, desensitize and challenge clients, build endurance, and achieve meaningful outcomes.  
  • Equine assisted activities such as riding, steering, and groundwork are very motivating,  empowering, and fun experiences that promote coordination, motor control and learning, planning, sequencing, problem solving, visual streaming, and self esteem.
  • Equines provide unconditional, non-judgmental interaction that promotes bonding, healing, trust, positive herd dynamics, and emotional well-being.  Horses have a way of breaking down barriers and defenses, reducing stress, and allowing opportunities to temporarily forget about daily challenges and worries.

Indications for equine assisted activities and therapies:

Equine facilitated therapy benefits individuals across the lifespan with a variety of special needs, including the following impairments and challenges:

  • Activities of daily living, functional abilities
  • Attention, behavior, cognition, focus, learning
  • Balance, postural control, fine & gross motor skills
  • Coordination, motor control & motor planning abilities
  • Endurance, speech, respiration & vital capacity, wellness
  • Problem solving, fluency, organization, sequencing, timing
  • Range of motion, muscle tone and extensibility, muscle strength
  • Sensory integration, self-regulation, sleep disorders, transitions, trust
  • Self-esteem, self-confidence, social skills, stamina, life skills, quality of life

Diagnostic indications for equine assisted activities and therapies:

  • Aging/Elderly
  • Amputations,
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Back Injuries & Pain
  • Balance Impairments
  • Brain Injuries/TBI
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Developmental Delay
  • Down Syndrome
  • Emotional Disabilities
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Mental Impairments
  • Mobility Impairments
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Parkinson’s Disorder
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Spina Bifida/Myelodysplasia
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Stroke (CVA & TIA)
  • Vestibular Disorders
  • Visual Impairments

More Information

To learn more about the benefits of equine assisted therapy, please visit PATH Intl. The Michigan Abilities Center is a Member Center or Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.)

Ensuring excellence and changing lives through equine assisted activities and therapies.