There’s a tremendous benefit to therapeutic approaches that incorporate animals into the healing process, which is that humans and animals require no words to communicate with each other.
This shared silence can open you up to an entirely new personal experience that may not have been achieved through traditional treatment techniques. Consider equine therapy for drug addiction and how some individuals have sought relationships with horses for decades.
The entrancing eyes, the intuitive interactions, and the powerful grace of an animal like a horse has drawn people to their presence since ancient Greek times. While riding horses can be exhilarating, there’s something even more profound when you actually take the time to interact with them in a more therapeutic manner.
That’s exactly why many clinical professionals dealing with substance addiction have started to recommend equine therapy to individuals struggling with addiction. Beyond the primal connection you can achieve through equine therapy, horses are sometimes better at helping you navigate the challenges associated with addiction and recovery.
What is Equine Therapy?
Equine therapy is a form of clinical treatment that incorporates interacting with horses into the actual therapeutic process. It allows you to participate in activities such as feeding, grooming and leading a horse while being supervised by clinical staff.
- Equine therapy for drug addiction specifically focuses on helping individuals with substance use disorders address addictive impulses and maladaptive behavioral patterns in a holistic environment that encourages the use of all the senses.
An outdoor environment and the use of horses provide a unique scenario to actually benefit from the natural connection associated with equine interactions.1
What Are the Benefits of Equine Therapy for Drug Addiction?
The process of equine therapy can be introduced in a variety of clinical settings and has proven effective with individuals struggling with substance addiction. This is because it enables you to immerse yourself fully in observing the behaviors of a majestic animal while feeling no pressure or judgment.
Many individuals struggling with addiction don’t know how to cope with their feelings, which is why they often use drugs as a way to numb their pain. Equine therapy for drug addiction addresses those emotions while also encouraging personal growth and healing.
Benefits of equine therapy can include:
- Learning to better manage feelings of vulnerability
One of the most difficult things you’ll experience during therapy is having to open up and face feelings of weakness and vulnerability that have fueled your addiction.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed when trying to discuss emotional challenges, past traumas or difficult life experiences, the horse can offer a reference point to empower you to better express those problems by exuding quiet strength and support.2
- Never feeling judged
It’s amazing to experience that silent connection with an animal. Since animals and humans don’t require words to communicate, the interactions they do share are generally done on a deeper, emotional level.
This may allow you to feel more at ease around animals and more comfortable confronting the negative thoughts that have impacted your substance use disorder. Having the horse present can provide a sense of peace because they only react to your behavior and emotions with no bias or judgment.2
- Having your feelings and emotions mirrored by the horse
One distinct feature of equine therapy is the way that the animals intuitively mirror your feelings. Horses are very empathetic animals, and they have been shown to reflect sadness, discomfort or anguish back toward you during therapy sessions.
This can improve your ability to embrace a deeper sense of self-awareness by using the horse’s behavior and interactions to monitor your experience and process what’s happening in the moment.3
- A great outlet for physical activity
One of the most important aspects of rehabilitation is improving your physical health. There’s quite a bit of evidence that physical activity helps improve your emotional state and decrease addictive impulses. Riding a horse provides you the opportunity to engage in physical exercise, enabling you to exercise muscles you’ve probably never used before.3
How Equine Therapy Helps with Cocaine Addiction and Other Substance Abuse
Equine therapy has proven to be successful for assisting people who suffer from a range of addictions, including cocaine. Equine therapy takes the neurological imbalances and irritability associated with cocaine withdrawal and provides an environment in which your mind and body can begin to heal through quiet reflection and primal connectivity.
Horses have shown their ability to relax people by improving their mood, reducing their stress, and even alleviating pain. This is achieved by giving you something new to focus on like an activity that’s both soothing and fulfilling at the same time.4
Equine Therapy at Ranch Creek Recovery
At Ranch Creek Recovery, we understand that one of the most important aspects of equine therapy is the bond that’s created between yourself and the animal.
While it’s true that traditional therapy can genuinely impact your experience throughout rehab, the bond that’s formed between you and the horse is unique and, in some ways, more beneficial.
Open your heart and your mind to the possibilities of equine therapy, and it may just change your life in ways you never imagined.
Learn more about equine therapy and the holistic therapies we offer and how they can help you.
Contact us to get your questions answered. We’re here to help in any way we can.
1 WebMD. What Is Equine Therapy and Equine-Assisted Therapy? Accessed September 20, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-equine-therapy-equine-assisted-Therapy.
2 Psychology Today. The Therapeutic Value of Horses. Accessed September 20, 2021. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ending-addiction-good/201708/the-Therapeutic-value-horses.
3 The National Center for Biotechnology Information. More Than Just a Break from Treatment: How Substance Use Disorder Patients Experience the Stable Environment in Horse-Assisted Therapy. Accessed September 20, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054942/.
4 Michigan State University. The science behind equine-assisted activities and therapeutic riding – Part I. Accessed September 20, 2021. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/the_science_behind_equine_assisted_activities_and_Therapeutic_riding_part_i.