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Equine Therapy: Horses Can Drag You Away

Equine therapy–therapy that involves caring for horses–has become common for treating a variety of issues, including addiction. There are various levels of involvement in equine therapy. It could entail coming to stables regularly to spend time with horses, or it could entail working full time on a ranch that specializes in treatment.

Whatever form equine therapy takes, there are several attributes that make it effective. First, spending time with animals in general lowers stress. Whether it’s a household pet like a cat or dog, or a horse, spending time with animals and caring for them  is a good way to reduce stress and anxiety. Horses in particular are sensitive to people’s emotions and can be supportive. They can also become agitated if you are angry, so their behavior can be a kind of feedback about your emotional state. Since you don’t want to upset an animal many times your size, spending time around horses is a good way to learn some emotional control. Learning to control impulsiveness and anger is a valuable skill in recovery.

Caring for animals is a good way to form a daily routine. Horses require a lot of care and maintenance. The progression goes cat, dog, horse, and each step requires an order of magnitude more care. Caring for a horse is a big commitment but it’s also rewarding. You have a creature that depends on you to make sure it’s fed and groomed, whether you feel like it or not. It’s good practice in setting aside your comfort and doing what needs to be done.

Horses get you outside and make you exercise. Sometimes horses used in therapy are old or injured and can’t be ridden, but just caring for them requires a bit of effort. If you can spend some time riding, so much the better. You get more exercise and possibly learn a new skill that involves self control and communication. It’s good for your patience and confidence.

Getting a job at the stables is not, in itself, an effective treatment for addiction, but it can be a helpful component in a comprehensive program that includes counseling, group therapy, and possibly medication. It’s also an example of how there are many different approaches to addiction treatment. If you can find something in recovery that speaks to you and gives you an incentive to stay sober, you have a major advantage.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.