When we think of equine therapy and the beauty of horses, it brings to mind the Book of Matthew 11:29. In it, he writes, “Ride with me and I’ll teach you what you need, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and it’s here you will find rest for your souls.” This is just one of the benefits of equine therapy. It takes us to a place of peace.
Many people approach equine therapy in one of two ways. Either they dismiss it outright because they don’t understand it or they are skeptical because they don’t see any scientific proof of its efficacy. Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we understand this mistrust and skepticism. After all, new things can be strange and scary.
However, we firmly believe in the usefulness and efficacy of equine therapy. Why? We have seen the transformation it has brought about in our students. We are in the business of helping our students recover by any means necessary. If we felt that equine therapy wasn’t helpful, we wouldn’t offer it.
What Exactly Is Equine Therapy?
As we mentioned, one of the reasons people overlook equine therapy is that they don’t really understand it or know what it is. That’s okay. Recovery is about learning and growth. In that spirit, we will start with an overview of what equine therapy is all about.
Equine therapy (also known as equine-assisted therapy) is a program that involves three components: the student, the equine specialist, and, of course, the horse itself. This therapy is mainly about learning to care for and relate to something outside of yourself in order to better connect to empathy, purpose, and one’s context in the greater world.
We find that when our students stop focusing on their self-interests for a moment and start caring for something that is reliant upon them, they begin to better understand the responsibility they have to the outside world. Our students begin to feel empowered in their environment rather than feeling entitled or beholden to someone else.
The History of Horse and Human Connection
Humans have a long history of beneficial equine interaction. According to a 2019 concept analysis in the medical journal Nursing Open, “Horses and domesticated animals have been used as a medical treatment since the second century.” The authors also delve into some specific instances where horses have been critical to the healing of human suffering.
The journal tells the story of how Florence Nightingale in 1898 was “using companion animals – pets that provide health benefits to a person – as the only pleasure of a confined invalid,” as well as how “accounts of horses’ curative physical, emotional and psychosocial qualities emerged in 5 B.C. and then again in World War I veterans early in the 20th century.”
As you can see, equine therapy is nothing new. Now we just happen to have a better understanding of how to utilize it for treating issues of poor lifestyle choices and mental health.
Integrating Equine Therapy Into a Treatment Plan
You may have asked yourself why Clearview Girls Academy is located all the way out in Heron, Montana. Aside from its unmatched beauty and landscape, Montana is the perfect environment for which to stable our horses.
It may seem a little “out there,” but we consider these horses to be just as much a part of our staff and family as anyone else here. This is why we make sure they have the best place to run in the country.
The Notable Benefits of Equine Therapy
There are many benefits to equine therapy, many of which vary for each individual. Some of these benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Gaining a sense of empathy and emotional awareness
- Attaining a greater level of stress tolerance
- Building a greater catalog of problem-solving tools
- Learning independence and responsibility
- Finding a sense of self-regard and self-actualization
- Improving communication skills and relationship-building skills
Bonding With Something Outside of Yourself
One of the less “quantifiable” benefits of equine therapy is something we believe is critical to recovery. That benefit is making a spiritual connection and creating a spiritual way of life. One of the best ways of attaining it is through the eyes of one of God’s great creatures.
Proverbs 21:31 states “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.” What exactly does that mean? We believe this means that our horses help us to better find a spiritual connection to God.
There are three changes to one’s self that we feel maximize the chances of recovery. These are emotional, behavioral, and spiritual changes. We have found that equine therapy can help facilitate them all. Because of its ability to address so many aspects of girls’ selves, equine therapy is something we are proud to offer. We want to help our young residents grow into their best selves and flourish in the greater world.
Human beings have had a long history of connecting and building relationships with horses. One of the reasons for this is the incredible mutual bond that can take place between horses and humans. Taking this history into account, therapists have now found that these equine/people relationships can aid in an individual’s recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders. Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we have a unique opportunity to offer equine therapy to our students. Utilizing our beautiful Montana landscape, we offer this therapy which has been found to bolster a sense of responsibility and elevate spiritual growth. If your daughter is struggling, equine therapy may help. For more information, call Clearview Girls Academy at (888) 796-5484.