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AskHQ: Therapy horses

Q: Why are horses considered so useful in therapy?

A: The major reason that horses are considered to be so good for therapy is that they tend to act as emotional mirrors to humans. They respond to the feelings we show, often with similar feelings. Being herd and prey animals mean that they have strong emotional senses and feed off and respond to other horses in the herd. If one horse in a herd becomes anxious or frightened, all of the other horses in the herd will respond similarly. They react very similarly with humans. if a human is anxious, they tend to become anxious and wary themselves. If a human is angry, and approaches them with anger, they are likely to shy and prepare to get away. All of this gives people a real-time response to their emotions, allowing them to connect with what they are feeling. In order to approach and work with a horse, you have to be able to create a state of internal calm. This means that you need to learn how to voluntarily control your emotions, and this is a vital skill for all of us to master.

The other reason that horses are so brilliant for therapy purposes is just their sheer size. To get an animal of that size to work with you is something most people at least, can’t achieve by force. Instead, negotiation and understanding skills are required in order to entice the horse to co-operate. Working in this way shows people alternative ways of working together with family, co-workers and friends.