Equus: Exploring Animal Therapy

Equus: Exploring Animal Therapy

Words & Art by  Yao Ting Yeong

At Ampersand we’ve been exploring different kinds of therapy and self-care that may help people improve their overall wellbeing. Something we hear about a lot is the unique way love and oxytocin of pets and animals can counteract rises in our cortisol levels. In this series, Yao Ting Yeong gives us an insight into the benefits of animal therapy. 

Equus explores the symbiotic three-dimensional relationship between horses and humans through different aspects of equine-assisted learning and therapy from three different stables that I have worked with across Scotland; Stable Life, Riding for the Disabled Glasgow Group and HorseBack UK. 

Equine-assisted learning and therapy is used to treat a variety of psychological and mental disorders and addiction, as well as individuals with traumatic injuries or those who are physically handicapped. It is a form of experiential therapy that involves the interactions between patients and horses physically and psychologically. This non-verbal approach and learning is solely built on trust, respect, and communication between horses and humans.

“Horses react intuitively and are so sensitive that they have been described as a human mirror to our soul”

Horses are naturally shy, prey animals and their primary feelings and instincts are their concern for safety, as they possess an instinctual hyper-vigilance. Coming from their heritage of being herd animals, they thrive in a group environment and possess skills for social engagement and are likely to look out for the safety of one another, by not abandoning members of the herd.

Horses react intuitively and are so sensitive that they have been described as a human mirror to our soul. They have a non-judgemental approach allowing them to quickly sense the human heartbeat and the emotional status of the person. These qualities make them an ideal animal for therapy as they offer unconditional acceptance for the individuals.

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