Equine Therapy and Eating Disorders

Why Do We Use Horses?

Horses are utilized in therapy due to the unique characteristics they possess. In fact, evidence indicates that horses have been used as a form of therapy as far back as 600BC in ancient Greece. One reason horses are used for therapeutic treatment is that they are excellent at picking up on the emotions of people, mirroring their emotions and responding accordingly.

Horses are extremely intelligent and emotional animals, and at their core, they are social animals, even in the wild they have a strong instinct to belong to a herd. As a herd animal, they are attuned to things such as stress and body language. Horses will move away from a person they sense is angry, will become unsettled when they sense fear, and yet will happily engage and follow a person they trust.

Horses are similar to humans in that they are known to respond to a range of emotions. Horses are intuitive and social animals, ones that have their own unique personalities, attitudes, and yes, moods. Because of these traits, horses are a wonderful way for individuals with eating disorders to learn and demonstrate things such as:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Honest Communication
  • Trust
  • Healthy Boundaries
  • Leadership
  • Patience
  • Assertiveness
  • Play
  • Affection
  • Nurturance
  • …and much more

Another reason horses are effective in therapy, is because no one is indifferent to them; everyone has a reaction. Girls usually love them or are scared of them, and right there, these individuals are experiencing two major emotions that are present in almost every situation of their lives.

It has also been clinically documented that simply being in the presence of horses can alter human brainwave patterns. Individuals calm down and find themselves more centered and focused when in the presence of horses.

Horses and Therapy

When an individual is in eating disorder treatment, they may find it difficult to express their feelings and emotions. However, because horses are excellent at picking up non-verbal communication, treatment specialists can observe how the horse reacts to the individual and use that as a point to begin an effective dialogue.

At The Meadows Ranch, our equine therapy program helps ease eating disorder sufferers into trusting relationships. Through the use of horses, patients can see for themselves that they are good enough. Patients learn that they can build a relationship with another creature that isn’t going to comment on what they say, judge them for their appearance, or criticize them for past experiences. Horses sense who the person is on the inside.

This type of therapeutic treatment offers our patients a real-time experience, providing for a non-judgmental interaction between themselves and another sentient being.

Our patients at The Meadows Ranch often emerge from treatment with a lasting bond with “their horse” and even check in on them long after they have successfully recovered and left treatment.

We Can Help

Horses are an integral part of our leading-edge treatment. At The Meadows Ranch, our patients learn how to be predictable, trustworthy and communicative from the bonds they establish during our Equine Therapy program.

For additional information about the treatment of eating disorders, please call to speak to a Counselor at 866-390-5100 and we will contact you with the information you need.

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