Equine Therapy / Equine Assisted Activities
Equine Therapy and Equine Assisted Activities allow the participant to have control
over the horse, be more physical and fit, and find a confidence within themselves that
they may have thought lost. They are able to form a bond with the horse and socialize
with other individuals with similar illnesses, thus lifting the isolated feelings they may
have experienced. Riding, equine experiential learning, groundwork and grooming
promote the benefits of close interaction with the horse, sometimes physical, often
emotional and social. Equine assisted activities raise confidence and esteem levels
and give the participant a sense of accomplishment and self worth. Equine Activity
and Therapeutic riding programs also incorporate games and other meaningful, age
appropriate social activities while on horseback to enhance social interaction.
If you are interested in obtaining more information about EAA, please e-mail or call for
In October of 2006 I was asked by the Wisconsin Bureau of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to present
at their annual convention on equine activity and its benefits to people with mental illnesses. When anyone comes out
to the farm who does not have previous horse experience I always talk about horse psychology and explain how they
herd leader. Being with horses is all about reading body language, and knowing what your body is saying, as well as
understanding your emotions and how they're affecting your relationship with the horse.
- Horses are prey animals that live in herds. Every herd has a herd leader and there is a pecking order beyond
that. That horse’s responsibility is to keep watch for and alert the herd of any danger. Horses want someone
else to be the leader – they would rather not have that responsibility.
- In the absence of a herd leader, a horse will become a leader. In the presence of a herd leader, a horse will
- When you’re working with a horse, it wants to know that you are a capable leader that will not allow harm to
come to it.
- Excerpt from Robert M. Miller, DVM book “Understanding the Ancient Secrets of the Horse’s Mind”: The Secret
of Dominance Hierarchy: The horse is the most easily dominated of all common domestic animals. It is a
herd animal, subject to a dominance hierarchy and because it is a flight animal, the horse needs leadership to
know when and where to run. In the wild, horses need leadership and readily accept it. Even naturally
dominant individual horses can be dominated and rather quickly if one knows how to do it.
- Dominance means Leadership. In order for us to lead a horse, we dominate it. We need to display
confidence and control in order to gain the horse’s respect.
Equine Assisted Activity Benefits to People with Mental Illness:
- People with Mental Illnesses may feel like their lives are being dictated by the system, caregivers, family
members, guardians, and others, and may not always feel in control of their lives. At times, we may feel like
our illnesses are in control of us as well. Equine activity starts by teaching them how to take control and
become a leader.
- When starting equine assisted activites, participants are taught about Equine Psychology. They are taught
about the horse’s need for leadership, and then they are given skills to become that horse’s leader.
Experienced horse leaders guide the participant and horse until the participant is comfortable with the horse,
and can display leadership abilities on their own. This gives participants heightened self-esteem and
- NARHA Equine Assisted Therapy Benefits (See Below)
- Participants are taught how to work through emotions of fear, anxiety, anger, etc and taught how to convey
confidence, calm, and leadership instead.
- Participants increase social skills through interactions with the horse, the volunteers, and other participants.
- They learn positive reactions to replace agitation, frustration, anger, fear
- They learn to read body language in others as well as understand what their body language is saying
- They learn how to be assertive, confident, and strong leaders!
Per the North American Riding for the Handicap Association (NARHA) the following is a list of
Systems/Functions Potentially Affected by Equine Assisted Activities/Therapies:
Motor control (gross and fine motor)
Oral motor control
Participation within nature
Connection with animals/people
Connection to a higher power
Partnership with horse and humans
Stable Life Equine Assisted Activities options:
Group Activities focusing on Social Skills Improvement
- Children: Age groups 4-7, 8-11, 12-14
- Adolescents: 14 and over
- Working as one: Team building/developing a relationship with the horse
- Ground Work: Building self esteem, learning how to free lunge with body language, decisive
movements, confidence and control
- Grooming: A calming, relaxing, bonding experience with the horse
- Free Riding: Individual rider assessment – start with rider’s current experience and build on it
- Strengthening the family foundation: Using horses to work together (for individual and their family
- Bilateral Stimulation: Using the horse’s natural gait to stimulate the brain bilaterally with focus on
enhancing confidence and self esteem
Volunteer Opportunities: Click here to go to our Volunteer page and learn more about it!
- ABLE Team: Adolescents Becoming Leaders & Equestrians
- At risk Adolescent Program: Benefiting Youth 14-20 years old
- Youth Groups, Church Groups, Community Groups
- Great opportunity for families, friends, and co-workers to spend time together and do something good
for your community!
- Perfect for retirees who want to stay active
- Job Training opportunities for people with mental illnesses, on disability, or unemployed
Stable Life, Inc.
When you ride a horse, balance comes, not from freezing your legs
to the saddle, but from learning to float with the movement of the
horse as you ride. Each step is a dance, the rider's dance as well as
the dance of the horse."
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
"Shambala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior"
If you're interested in both EAA
Program Participation and the
Volunteer Program, download the