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Benefits of Equine Therapy for Addiction

  • October 17, 2021
  • 6 min read
Benefits of Equine Therapy for Addiction

Consistent use of drugs and substances may result in addiction, and several factors may trigger one into using drugs and substances. These include peer pressure, family history of addiction, parental negligence, and use of highly addictive drugs, to mention a few. Addiction comes with its risks of losing work, inadequate money, laziness, and theft.

There are ways in which one can recover from addiction. It involves a series of treatments and therapies. One of these therapies is called equine therapy which is used to improve one’s physical and emotional state by building a connection with a horse. With that said, here are a few things about equine therapy to overcome addiction and a few more benefits it comes with.

  1. Assertiveness

An assertive person has taken charge of their own life and knows what they want in life. Part of equine therapy is to build or improve an individual’s assertiveness. Horses require leadership and they look up to someone to steer them in the right direction or command them. However, you cannot force them to cooperate or react aggressively towards them. It needs a good leader to know how to control it. In this same way, an individual knows how to be around their peers.

Once you are in charge of your own life, then no one can tell you otherwise. You lead and steer yourself in the right direction whether through recovery or telling off peers who are forced to use drugs. Bravely turning them down and keeping your own stance shows you are assertive.

  1. Impulse control

Horses always react according to one’s attitude and behavior towards them. How you talk and handle them depicts whether they will love you or be aggressive. Horses want to be talked to calmly and patted softly.

Drug addiction causes emotional torture and may rob one of their peace. An addict is normally short-tempered and can be pissed off by anything. They are usually moody especially when they are off meds or trying to sober up. The withdrawal phases of recovery are not easy and may anger them.

This can be a very trying exercise for an individual emotional and impulse control. It is the best therapy because they have to find a way in their aggressiveness to calmly talk to a horse. Equine therapy teaches them self-control and emotional control.

The therapist leaves you in a stable with a horse and lets you calm it down. Unless one can control their emotions and calm down, the horse is going to be overly aggressive. This therapy teaches you to find your cool even in the middle of chaos. Read more here https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/horse-power-the-benefits-of-equine-therapy-1.3528876 

  1. Empathy

Equine therapy increases empathy in an individual. With empathy, you understand what someone is going through. Horses are empathetic, and their survival depends on each of their ability to share feelings even though they are animals.

Horses can read into an individual’s feelings and react accordingly. If you are happy, the horse will be happy as well. If you are stressed or sad, the horse will be distraught and fidget a lot. This co-relates with individuals on their addiction recovery journey.

Most sponsors are empathetic to their patients because they have been in the same position before. During support group meetings, some members are usually closed off. They do not answer any questions or share their experiences and there is never shutting out your feelings when dealing with a horse. It reacts according to the moods and feelings of the horseman or horsewoman. This therapy teaches you to let out more and share experiences with other members because they have been where you are.

You do not need to be sorry for each other in the support group but understand and encourage instead because you all share the same feelings.

  1. Self-image

Who knew that a simple interaction with a horse can teach you so many things? Equine therapy shapes an individual’s self-image both physically and internally. Horses are relatively huge, and people find it difficult to care for them. They consider caring for the horses a lot of work.

This therapy will change your mind. Caring for horses requires commitment which improves your ethics. As discussed above, horses react to moods as humans do. It means that caring for them will boost an individual’s patience. Working around a whole horse while caring for it is also courageous.

An individual in recovery finds it helpful as it gives them a sense of purpose. Caring for these horses helps one to want to work on themselves too. You acquire so many skills such as assertiveness, patience, courage, self-control, empathy, and more, just by interacting with a horse.

All these good qualities and skills that one learns help improve their self-image. They become more aware of who they have become and see the need to keep pushing to become better versions of themselves.

  1. Stress

How clearly do you think when under pressure or stress? Since you are dealing with horses, this therapy requires you to be calm and focused. Horses can be sensitive to even the slightest movement hence the need to focus.

The therapy tests your limits of how quickly you can make decisions when under pressure. Will you be quick to jump to conclusions or take time to think first? Horses teach you how to tolerate stress or pressure and instead center your focus on what is going on.

Learning how to tolerate stress is essential especially during recovery because the bad days may make one want to relapse. However, focusing on the ultimate goal, which is sobriety, will help you push through until the end. Click here for more information.


Recovery and treatment are not a one-day or one-month plan. It requires time and will from an individual. The various treatment methods and therapeutic approaches have been tailored to help every individual.

Equine therapy does not only benefit those with addiction problems but also those experiencing eating disorders, anxiety, and behavioral problems, to mention a few. Connecting with horses helps individuals to stay in touch with their feelings and emotions. Equine therapy is one of the many therapy approaches used in helping those with addiction problems.

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