Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Equine-assisted psychotherapy incorporates horses into the therapeutic process. People engage in activities such as grooming, feeding, leading, and riding a horse while being supervised by an equine specialist and mental health professional.  Goals of this form of therapy including helping people develop skills such as emotional regulation, and responsibility.

Horses can be used in counseling with individuals of all ages, even with families and groups.  Equine-assisted psychotherapy is often not the sole form of treatment, but rather a complementary therapeutic service to be used in partnership with more traditional treatment.

For Children, Teens and Adults

Equine facilitated psychotherapy is as effective with children and teens as it is with adult clients. As with adults, children can experience challenges such as trauma, anxiety, depression, PTSD, Substance Use,  and more.

Equine therapy offers a therapeutic environment that can feel less threatening and more inviting than a traditional office therapy.

Children often find it difficult to open up and process painful emotions and experiences. Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy allows youth, and people of all ages, to work on issues such as:

  • Assertiveness
  • Confidence
  • Developing and maintaining relationships
  • Emotional awareness/regulation
  • Empathy
  • Impulse control
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Social skills
  • Trust in others
  • Trust in self

Non-Trauma Focused Equine-Assisted Therapy

Being around horses is a special way for individuals to socialize and gain confidence. Whereas dogs and smaller animals are well-known for providing therapeutic care and non-judgmental support, horses have a hard-to-describe “magic.”

Research into the benefits of equine-assisted therapy has found a host of ways interacting with horses improves both mental and physical wellness, like reducing anxiety and loneliness to improving motivation, self-esteem, and social skills. Including these large, powerful, and naturally empathetic animals in therapeutic activities can have profound benefits for kids of all abilities.

In forging a bond with a horse, clients will identify their negative behaviors and learn positive communication and problem-solving skills to handle frustration, challenges, and fears.

Equine-Facilitated Therapy is an experiential method that uses a hands-on approach.  It differs from other animal-assisted therapies in that the client must go to the animal and participate in the animal’s environment.  Horses have a special rehabilitating role due to their stature alongside a child, adolescent, or adult.  They command respect, a frequent problem with at-risk children.  The objective of equine therapy is to instill a sense of self-esteem, create an understanding of boundaries, improve focus and instill trust.  The program teaches cooperation and is used to elicit pro-social behaviors to be transferred to everyday life.  The children, adolescents, adults, and families participate in activities such as feeding, grooming, mucking stalls, and riding.  The horse, as a large animal, offers opportunities for affective changes in a person’s experience and behavior.  Verbal and nonverbal communication is essential between horses and human to cooperate during riding and other activities.  Relationships between horse and human have been found to be a valuable tool to improve self-confidence, social competence, and quality of life, as well as, developing empathy and coping ability.

What to Wear When Visiting the Barn

Make sure to wear comfortable, long pants and closed toed shoes, (IE: Tennis shoes, boots…)
We will provide riding helmets, so please do not bring your own unless it is ASTM/SEI certified.

Barn Safety Rules

For the safety of our horses and riders, we ask kindly that you adhere to the following rules while at barn:
1. No smoking or pets.
2. An ASTM/SEI certified helmet and proper shoes must be worn when mounted. (If you do not have the proper footwear, you will not be able to interact closely with the horses.)
3. No running or sudden movements.
4. No shouting or loud noises.
5. Gates must remain closed.
6. Only feed the horses apples, carrots, and treats from the barn. Feed with palm facing up and fingers flat and tight.
7. Never enter a paddock without a Red Barn staff member.
8. Make sure the horse is aware of your presence before approaching.
10. Do not mount until an instructor has checked the girth.

Meet the Horses of Red Barn!

Midnight is a 16-year-old, Tennessee Walking Horse gelding that has been with WCMHC’S Red Barn since he was 9 years old. He is a very goofy horse who loves to meet new people!

Misty is a 17-year-old, Tennessee Walking Horse mare who joined the Red Barn at the same time as Midnight. Midnight and Misty have been herd mates for several years now, you can often catch them playing together in the fields.

Hannah is a 7-year-old, Paint mare who was brought to the Red Barn in November of 2020. She is our newest horse here on the farm; however, she settled in and became apart of the herd very quickly!