What Is Equine Assisted Therapy | Horses For Harmony

What Is Equine Assisted Therapy?

Equine Assisted Therapy, often shortened to EAT, encompasses a range of treatments that involve activities with horses to promote human physical and mental health. For more about why we chose horses - click here

There is a growing body of evidence indicating EAT has been effective in treating individuals with personal and psychological issues, including:

  • Autism and Aspergers
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse and addictions
  • Depression and anxiety
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Attachment issues & dependencies
  • Low self-esteem
  • Negative behavioral issues

EAT has been used by medical professionals such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists, social workers, and recreational therapist to assist patients.

EAT has been around since antiquity, but as it applies to physical health issues, its usage dates back to the 1960s and for mental health treatment dates back to the 1990s.


The official name for equine assisted therapy is Hippotherapy, getting its roots from the word hippos - Greek for horse. There are various terms encompassing Equine Assisted Therapy or Equine Assisted Activities. Many involve interaction with horses and are used for people with and without special needs. This includes those with physical, cognitive and emotional issues.

Equine Assisted Therapy Fox News

Therapeutic horseback riding involves a certified therapeutic riding instructor, volunteers and a horse, to help an individual ride and work with the horse from the ground.

Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is an experiential learning approach where the participant experiences challenges to break through often mental barriers, assisting the development of life skills.

Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) may not involve riding. Instead, participants may interact with horses by grooming, feeding and being in close proximity with them. Mental health professionals will discuss, coach participants through these interactions encouraging feelings, emotional trauma, hurt and attachments to be released and or processed. Again, the benefits can show in social, emotional and other behavioural ways.

Equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP), equine-assisted therapy (EAT), Equine Facilitated Wellness (EFW), Equine Facilitated Counselling (EFC) and Equine Facilitated Mental Health (EFMH) are other names for Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP).Equine-Assisted Activities (EAA) can include all of the above plus, stable management, parading, displays etc.

For more on Equine Assisted Therapy, see wikipedia.