The popularity of equine therapy has been increasing dramatically, and because of this, it has expanded into many different settings. Equine therapy can now be found as part of veteran rehabilitation programs, outpatient therapy offered to children with developmental disorders as part of a hospital’s treatment model, and even surprisingly, part of the required curriculum for Stanford Medical students.
As this expansive development has occurred, many in the psychotherapeutic field have also wondered where the research to support this new treatment approach is being published.
Some journals have produced articles supporting equine therapy, much research has been funded by the Horse and Human Research foundation, and some researchers have chosen to conduct and publish their own research independently.
With this movement toward a more solid research foundation in equine therapy, and the increasing public interest in a promising new therapeutic approach, universities have also begun to take interest in the field. A few now offer masters programs in equine-related therapy, and some also offer certification programs as well.
In recognition of the need for sound research, and the large student interest in conducting this research, some schools are now conducting studies to look more closely at the ways in which equine therapy can benefit a person. Among the potential positive outcomes of equine work: measures of improved mood, decreases in anxiety, some alleviation of depression and increased physical capacity with developmental disorders.
Utilizing the structure of a university setting combined with the tireless effort of graduate students, these studies have certainly produced some fascinating outcomes, while also lending to the needed research into equine therapy.
Here is a list of a few of the university studies looking at equine therapy:
With increased interest in the field of equine therapy, and the support of universities, work with horses has quite a promising future as a sound therapeutic modality.
Cambridge University photo available from Shutterstock.