Mental Health Facilitation

It is known throughout the world that people who have been diagnosed with clinical depression experience great benefit by taking part in equine assisted learning programs. Apart from being transportation tools in the past, horses have become key players in the mental rehabilitation of many. There are several therapeutic activities involving horses.

Hippotherapy is a process that utilizes the movement of horses for physical, occupation and/or speech therapy. Horses have also been used to treat motor and sensory issues associated with cerebral palsy, multiple scleroses and stroke among other things. Horses are prey animals and are highly attuned to environmental activity and sensitive to people’s emotional states – even more than other animals used in therapy. The horses are often capable of indicating a patient’s feelings even before the therapist can and they can assist with developing confidence and overcoming fear through translation to real-life situations. They respond to people’s intent and behaviour in an unbiased way. They willingly work with people who are engaged in building a relationship with them. This is another way of introducing special career opportunities.

Therapists and horse handlers can assist people suffering from

  • depression
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • attention deficit hyperactive disorder
  • anxiety
  • behavioural issues
  • aggressive behaviour
  • substance abuse
  • eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia
  • relationship problems; and
  • communication issues.

By simply being with horses, walking with them and talking with them much can be achieved.

Studies have suggested that equine assisted psychotherapy can improve:

  • self-esteem,
  • communication skills,
  • self-awareness,
  • relaxation,
  • empowerment,
  • interpersonal relationships,
  • self-control,
  • focus and concentration
  • happiness.

Special care needs to be taken into account with this kind of therapy and professionals will be invited to the facility to expand on their knowledge and possibly study the horses for the benefit of their profession. The gentlest horses in the herd can be trained for this purpose, especially the wise old ones that are known to be reliable around newcomers.

Additional income can be generated by offering exposure to these magnificent creatures at THE GREYTON HORSE RETREAT so that qualifying therapists and veterinary practitioners can complete their final community work practical year.