The belief that animal-human interactions can act as a therapeutic tool has developed in recent years into a formalized field of therapy known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT;Burgon, 2011). AAT uses the human-animal bond as an integral part of the therapeutic process (Chandler, 2005). Compared with other animals, the horse is argued to have additional therapeutic qualities, in part because of its size and power, but also because of its inherent vulnerability as a prey animal and the unique dynamic this situation creates (Vidrine, Owen-Smith, & Faulkner, 2002). Although therapeutic horse riding has been a recognized activity for many decades, particularly in the area of disability, Access Adventure goes beyond the activity of riding and uses the task of caring for and driving horses as a mean of establishing trust, respect, and responsibility.
Emotional benefits are fostered through time spent with the horse. Horses have the ability to be present but not intrusive. They can be encouraging, supportive and naturally intuitive to the mood of those around them.
Cognitive benefits are limitless. Anatomy and physiology, health and hygiene, nutrition and grooming are merely part of the educational opportunities. The judgement and reasoning used working around horses enhances these abilities when interacting in other environments.
Social benefits are cultivated through common experiences. Respect, boundaries, self-responsibility and safety for others and the horse are encouraged in order to maximize the equine experience.
Physical benefits are achieved through grooming the horse, leading the horse and cleaning up after the horse. Participants are encouraged to assist in all aspects of horse care which challenge fine and gross motor skills, balance, strength, endurance and hand-eye coordination. Therapeutic Driving offers even profoundly disabled people the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation while achieving positive functional outcomes in an environment that is safe, supportive, exciting and fun.
Equine Therapy for (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
For thousands of years horses have been mystical, magical creatures playing the role of transportation, gladiator, companion, entertainer and more. Now they are also playing the role of psychotherapy assistant through a discipline known as Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) which is increasingly being used to treat war veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)…. Read More here…
(PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Just one track-able benefit to horses and driving)
- About 300,000 Iraq & Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD or major depression.
- About 320,000 have experienced a mild concussion or Traumatic Brain Injury in combat
- PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults (NIMH- 2005 National Co-morbidity Survey Replication study)
- Estimated 5% of Americans- more than 13million people- have PTSD- Sidran Institute
- IN the US alone every year over 125,000 individuals who sustain a TBI become disabled- Brain Injury Assoc. of America
Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy in Veterans Rehabilitation
- Equine Therapy/Animal-assisted Therapy has shown to be effective in treating patients, including combat veterans, with PTSD, depression, anxiety, ADHD & ADD, conduct disorders, dissociative disorders and other chronic mental illnesses. Journal of American Medical Association
- More than 30 VA Medical Centers are participation in Equine Assisted Activities (EEA) programs as noted by the Supervisory Recreation Therapist Department of Veterans Affair
- The Caravan traveled over 2,500 miles in 150 days, traveling an average of 20 miles a day- every day
- 85% of all individuals have some type of physical impairment
- More than 4,200 Paralympic Athletes are expected to participate in the Olympic Games
- 40,308 individuals with disabilities participated in certified equine therapy programs in 2008 (NAHRA) . Participants included those with muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, visual & hearing impairments, down syndrome, autism, mental retardation, multiple sclerosis, brain and spinal cord injuries, emotional and learning disabilities, amputations and attention deficit disorder
Quotes by Michael Muir
“When we refuse to be limited by the challenges we face, we are free to challenge our limits. The worst disability is a bad attitude.”
“We are an all-volunteer organization, no one is paid. Not because our work has no value, but because it is priceless.”