Equine Therapy and Addiction

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The same kind of therapy doesn’t work for all addicts. While many respond to traditional programs, others fall back into old patterns once they leave treatment or they fail to meet the goals established in rehab. For those addicts, alternative treatments like equine therapy exist.

What is Equine Therapy?

Equine therapy is designed to provide interaction between the addict and a horse as part of the therapy process. Horses are naturally social and will bond with people. In return, many people find it easier to connect with horses than with other humans, especially if they have been isolated because of their drug addiction.

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The person may spend time around the horse on a regular basis, and often they are required to provide care for the animal. They may feed, walk and groom the horse. In some programs, the person may even ride the horse while others don’t allow for it because of the risk. Previous experience with horses isn’t necessary to participate in these programs.

How Equine Therapy Helps

The patient spends time with the horse, which allows them to relax and open up. They become more comfortable with their emotions, as they foster a connection with the animal. It’s often less frightening to develop a friendship with a horse than a human, but it can pave the way for other successful relationships in the future.

In programs where the patient is responsible for the animal’s care, it teaches them how to be accountable for their actions as well as earning the trust of the horse. They often develop confidence as they take responsibility for the welfare of the animal.

Horses also sense a person’s emotions, and they respond accordingly. This fact can be an important life lesson for the recovering addict as they learn to understand their own emotions as indicated by the horse’s behavior. This program can be important to a therapist who monitors the person’s behavior and actions and uses the interaction to discuss valuable topics.

While equine therapy cannot help a person overcome addiction alone, it can be a valuable resource used in the treatment. If you’re interested in this type of therapy, you can find addiction centers that offer equine therapy.


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