Recently, we wrote about the impact animals can have when dealing with trauma and the transition from military to civilian life. This week, we’re going a bit more in depth on equine therapy, a therapeutic model that can help veterans regulate their emotions, improve their trust of themselves and the world around them and help them connect with their loved ones.
Equine therapy takes many forms, from handling and grooming to pairing and riding. As natural pack animals, horses are inclined to follow a strong and clear leader. By slowly building a connection between the veteran and the horse through emotional honesty, the horse opens itself up to trusting and following the veteran, and the veteran learns to trust themselves and their surroundings again. After several sessions, symptoms such as hypervigilance, anger, aggression and stress are reduced. Veterans show a greater ability to connect with others through improved patience, trust, a healthy boundary setting and assertiveness. The Equus Effect in Connecticut provides such therapy and their model has changed the lives of numerous veterans:
“The day Apache made a connection with me and chose to follow me on his own demonstrated that he trusted me. It helped me realize that I could trust myself…because if a horse chooses to disregard his own hypervigilance and trusts that means that I can do the same.”
-Equus Effect Veteran
Equine therapy is a relatively new field that has been showing promise for years, but has recently been validated through evidence-based research. As more studies are completed, we hope that this fantastic approach to trauma and healing will be accessible to every veteran and their family. If you’re interested in being connected to an equine therapy provider in your area, contact RRRP here!