What is Equine Assisted Therapy?

Please watch this 5 min introduction to Equine Assisted Psychotherapy on the screen below
Click on play.

Please Note: This video still refers to LEAP as a charity. LEAP changed its status in April 2012 and is now a private company...

Please contact LEAP on leapenquiries@btinternet.com or call 0776 0776500

Equine Assisted Therapy includes different types of therapies which integrates horses into the treatment process. It is used in a variety of therapy fields; horses can help people with physical issues, speech problems, behavioural issues, emotional problems, and other disabilities. Those that participate in such programs often express appreciation for the process, crediting their therapy with some later accomplishments.

Studies have suggested that humans benefit from regular contact with animals; many humans have an especially unique relationship with the horse, thanks to the long association of people and horses. Horses symbolize freedom for many people and equine assisted therapy harnesses the connection between people and horses, for mutual benefit.

Equine Assisted Therapy includes:

Many Equine Assisted Therapy programs focus on behavioural problems. Horses can serve as a silent intermediary, acting as teachers in facilitated exercises, either in groups or alone. For example, a group of convicts might be asked to solve a problem relating to a horse, such as teaching the horse to run a course of jumps. During the session, the members of the group learn to communicate with each other and to work cooperatively.

Horses are also used in occupational therapy, helping develop skills which will help them later in life. Equine-assisted therapy can help people communicate, develop fine motor skills learn to approach problems in new ways, and it can foster understanding and compassion for diverse people and animals.

Equine Assisted Therapy, for:

What are Equine Assisted Psychotherapy / Equine Facilitated Learning and Equine Assisted Solutions?

LEAP offer Equine Facilitated Learning and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Programmes in which horses and humans work together for emotional growth and learning, because of its intensity and effectiveness, it is considered a short-term or 'brief' approach.

EAP/EFL is experiential in nature. This means that participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviors, and patterns. EAP/EFL has the added advantage over other activities (e.g. ropes courses, adventure playground) in the way it utilizes horses as dynamic and powerful living beings.

The focus of EAP/EFL involves setting up activities involving the horses, which reveal important insights and will require the client or group to apply certain skills. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem solving, leadership, work, taking responsibility, teamwork and relationships, confidence, and attitude are several examples utilized and developed by EAP/EFL.

EAP/EFL is a powerful and effective therapeutic approach that has an incredible impact on individuals, youth, families, and management groups. EAP/EFL addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs including behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication needs.

Equine Assisted Solutions
Equine Assisted Solutions programmes are for the Business sector. In these times of change and risk, many teams, managers and companies are facing tough decisions, competition and timelines, teams are downsized as are budgets. Programmes are bespoke and we will work with you to attain maximum impact for your company.

High Impact
From the outset teams respond to the horse with: -

without words - demand, challenge or confrontation, the perfect conditions have been set for the process of change to happen.

Result Oriented
Programmes focus on the here and now; horses offer immediate feed back on the teams/individuals beliefs, communication and behavioural patterns. The horses response is real and rapid, there is no opportunity for trickery, smooth talking or jargon, they don't understand words, but they do understand clear and united direction.

Horses have a profound way of challenging, providing a unique opportunity for teams/individuals to observe in a non critical environment, what works and what doesn't.

Rapid Response
The programme offers immediate insight on teams/individuals dynamics, self awareness and cohesion. During the sessions these issues will be rapidly dealt with and solutions found resulting in a natural and seamless approach to achieving targets.

Total Recall
Translating this programme back to the workplace couldn't be easier, horses have a high visual impact on teams/individuals, therefore it is imperative that participants clearly recognise that once they complete sessions with the horses, that they will experience total recall be it in the work place, at home or when they least expect it we call this 'Light bulb moments!'

EQUINE ASSISTED SOLUTIONS are bespoke, please contact us directly for how we can provide you with a high impact programme on 0776 0776500

Why use horses?
Those who are familiar with horses recognize and understand the ability of horses to influence people in incredibly powerful ways. Developing relationships, training, horsemanship instruction, and caring for the horses naturally affects the people involved in a positive manner.

The benefits of work ethic, responsibility, assertiveness, communication, and healthy relationships have long been recognized. Horses naturally provide these benefits. The use of horses is growing and gaining popularity with the rise of new approaches in working with the horses, including the field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.

We are often asked, "Why horses? Why not other animals?"

Horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. The size and power of the horse are naturally intimidating to many people. Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.

Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes, and moods. An approach that seems to work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another. At times, they seem stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun. In other words, horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning. Using metaphors, in discussion or activity, is an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals or groups.

Horses require work, whether in caring for them or working with them. In an era when immediate gratification and the "easy way" are the norm, horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable characteristic in all aspects of life.

Most importantly, horses have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. Many people will complain, "The horse is stubborn. The horse doesn't like me," etc. But the lesson to be learned is that if they change themselves, the horses respond differently. Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers.

Equine Assisted Growth & Learning Association

How does EAP differ from Recreational Horsemanship and Riding?

Frequently asked, how does EAP/EFL differ from recreational horsemanship or riding? How will EAP/EFL services benefit my client, child, or family member more than lessons at our local riding facility?

Although spending any time with horses, whether it is riding, leisure, or sport, is certainly beneficial mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, EAP/EFL offers the following benefits to individuals, groups, and families that specifically address mental, emotional, and behavioural issues:

This non-directive approach benefits clients by:


First Published in Woodbury Reports, December 2002, Issue #100

A group of violent 17 year-old boys in a correctional program used to require physical managements by staff on a daily basis. After introducing horses into their program, the boys learned how to control their violent outbursts and worked together solving problems.

Barbara Lester, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) at a treatment boarding school for adolescents wrote, "Now that I've started to do horse sessions, it's hard to think of doing talk therapy in an office with adolescents. In that setting, their real patterns emerge and the student can not cover up or manipulate. I have learned more about a teen in one horse session than in a month of individual work."

These results are being obtained from new techniques of using horses to improve the emotional, behavioral, and mental lives of adults, children, and families in a field called Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP). Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is a rapidly growing field in which horses are used as a tool for emotional growth and learning. The work is not about recreation or riding horses. Rather, the focus of EAP involves setting up problem-solving activities involving the horses, mostly ground activities. These activities are designed to reveal important insights and require the client or group to apply certain skills. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem-solving, leadership, work, taking responsibility, teamwork and relationships, confidence, and attitude are several examples of the tools utilized and developed by EAP. This approach has been compared to therapeutic ropes courses, but it has the added advantage of utilizing living beings which respond to the participants.

One popular group activity is called Life's Little Obstacles. This involves asking the participants to get a horse to go over a jump placed in the arena. The jump can represent any challenge, which the group is facing, such as going to school, or getting a child to school. It doesn't sound too difficult until the rules of the activity are given: no physically touching the horse, no halters and lead ropes, no bribing, and no verbally talking to each other. The horse provides a great metaphor to working with kids or adults. Each horse has his own distinct personality, and doesn't always want to do what you are asking him to do. The process of trying to accomplish this goal ends up leading to some pretty intense discussions and insights.

Lynn Thomas, LCSW, co-founder of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, states that the success of EAP comes from the horses. "Horses react to our body language. This gives incredible and immediate feedback to what people are communicating non-verbally. Participants learn that if they want to change the horse's behaviour, they have to change their own behaviours, thoughts, and feelings. It is powerful because it is more than just talking, it is doing!"

EAP incorporates a team of a horse professional working with a mental health professional. Because of this, even mental health professionals with no horse background can get involved in this work.

EAP is gaining popularity in the mental health community mainly because the success with clients has been so overwhelming. Doug Mann, M.Ed., LMFT, of Journey Home, Inc., in Colorado, found that horses being added into his treatment sessions improved recidivism rates with male juvenile offenders. In addition, Linda Myers, MA, CCDCIII-E, NCACI, of Ohio, reports that statistics provided by the Geauga County Juvenile Court also show improved recidivism rates for juvenile offenders since incorporating equine-assisted therapy. In the Subsidy Grant programs, in 1998, 67% did not recidivate within 3 months of their termination from the programs, compared with in 2000, 79% did not recidivate within 3 months of treatment termination. In fact, the Geauga County Juvenile Court has now nicknamed the horse program the "Last Chance Corral" as they send kids who couldn't make it in any of the other programs.

In a recent research project, Mann and Williams (2002) found that 82% of the youth in Equine-Assisted Family Therapy demonstrated clinically significant improvement from treatment from an average of 5 sessions. Each of the clients had failed to make progress in previous conventional methods of therapy according to their parents. Conduct Disorders demonstrated the most clinically significant improvement followed by Mood Disorders and Psychotic Disorders. All three diagnostic categories demonstrated above average improvement compared to other approaches, in a shorter time with a lesser cost.