Women, Trauma, and PTSD

Trauma is common in women; five out of ten women experience a traumatic event. Women tend to experience different traumas than men. While both men and women report the same symptoms of PTSD (hyperarousal, reexperiencing, avoidance, and numbing), some symptoms are more common for women or men.

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The Effects of Equine Assisted Activities on the Social Functioning of Children with Austism

The Effects Of Equine Assisted Activities On The Social Functioning Of Children

With Autism. Bass, Margaret M.; Llabre, Maria. 2010. (17 p.)

Using a larger sample size and additional controls, we duplicated our 2006 pilot

study to further investigate the effects on the research subjects. The objective of this

study was to identify if equine assisted activities improved the social function and

attention of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, as well as to evaluate if

Horses & Humans Research Foundation Newsletter, ed.1, 2010, p.[1].

Available from the website www.humansandhorses.org both as a final report and as a

summary (Accessed 21 Jul 2010).

Funded by the Horses and Humans Research Foundation and submitted for publication

(in process, July 2010).

The results of this study indicate that EAA activities may be an valuable therapeutic

option for children with autism spectrum disorders. More specifically, compared to wait list

control participants, autistic children in the experimental group improved in critical areas

such as sensory seeking, emotional reactive, inattention/distractibility and sensory sensitivity.

The experimental subjects also demonstrated improved cognition, communication as well as

motivation following the intervention. Both parents and teachers observed treatment effects at

the first posttest. Although there was a significant difference following the initial posttest for

10 the experimental group, these effects had subsided for most of the subscales except for three

scales of the SP completed by parents.

The observed increase in social functioning may be attributed to an array of reasons. 

Perhaps the exposure to the horse was, in some way, highly stimulating. The fact that

participants had not been exposed to therapeutic horseback riding argues that this experience

may have been a unique multi sensory event that was directly associated either with the

physical presence or natural movement of the horse. Possibly it is the relationship that was

built between the subject and their horse, which empowered them to learn and enhance their

functioning levels. It is also possible that the intervention levels during and after the intervention.

The act of riding the horse may have been perceived as a rewarding stimulus that accounted for

elevated levels of motivation and social engagement.

For entire article, visit www.horsesandhumans.org

Equine Therapy: How Horses Help Troubled Teens Build Better Lives

By Hugh C. McBride


Some therapists guide their patients through structured processes in clinical environments, while others engage clients in more casual conversations in settings that range from home offices to wilderness trails.

A third type prefers to hang around stables while their clients groom and feed them.

For decades, horses have been employed in therapeutic programs throughout the United States, where they have helped thousands of people overcome serious physical and emotional challenges. For adolescents who suffer from social or developmental disorders, equine therapy can offer life-changing opportunities to work through internal struggles and rebuild positive interpersonal relationships.

“The relationship created between the troubled teenager and the horse can be one of the greatest assets of having equine therapy,” Luke Hatch, executive director of Turn-About Ranch, wrote in an article on the program’s website. “This bond can help change the life of an adolescent.”


To some, the idea of horses as therapists may smack of New Age-y pseudo-science, but history tells us that these majestic animals have served in therapeutic and rehabilitative roles for centuries.
Documents from ancient Greece suggest that the concept of horse-assisted therapy dates to at least 600 BC, and the first modern research into the ability of horses to assist with physical recovery was conducted in the late 1800s.

In the 20th century, equine therapy was initially focused on individuals with physical injuries and handicaps, such as wounded soldiers or people who were afflicted with polio. The concept gained considerable renown in 1952, when a partially paralyzed woman became the first female competitor to win an Olympic medal in an equestrian sport. Lis Hartel, a Danish athlete who had contracted polio eight years earlier, earned a silver medal in dressage during the Helsinki Olympics (an accomplishment she matched at the 1956 games).

Hartel’s successes prompted an interest in hippotherapy (physical rehabilitation on horseback), with the practice becoming more commonplace in the United States and Canada over the subsequent decades. By 1969, organizations such as the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled, the Cheff Center for the Handicapped, and the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association were all advocating on behalf of hippotherapy as well as the ability of horses to help individuals with social, emotional, and developmental disorders.

In the 1990s, therapists at Turn-About Ranch in Escalante, Utah, pioneered the practices and principles of equine-assisted psychotherapy, which led to the development of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association.

Today, horse-assisted therapy has become an effective component of many programs designed to help adolescents and teenagers who are in crisis.


Imposing yet gentle, perceptive yet nonjudgmental, horses can help troubled teens gain essential insights into their inner demons and innate strengths.

As Kathy Krupa, the founder of an equine therapy program in New Jersey, told New York Times reporter Bill Finley, “A horse couldn’t care less if someone has been in jail or has a learning disability. They only judge you by how you are at the moment. You’re even allowed to be afraid around a horse as long as you admit that you’re afraid. I’ve seen a horse walk right up to a terrified kid and put their heads in their chests.”

Copper Canyon Academy, a boarding school for troubled teen and pre-teen girls in Rimrock, Arizona, employs equestrian therapy as part of its comprehensive effort to help girls overcome a wide range of social and emotional challenges. The licensed professionals at Copper Canyon use horses as co-therapists in an effort to help girls develop greater empathy and nurturing abilities while redefining themselves and their purpose in the world around them.

“Animals don’t lie, manipulate, or cheat,” the CCA website reports. “As students work with the animals, they begin to realize that lying, manipulating and cheating don’t work; they begin to form bonds and to expand their horizons beyond themselves.”


Sierra Tucson, an internationally recognized program for teenagers with addictions and behavioral disorders, also incorporates equine therapy to help patients identify unhealthy behavior patterns and learn to establish and develop positive relationships. According to the Sierra website, equine therapy can be particularly effective because “horses are typically non-judgmental and have no expectations or motives. … The horse assists in making patients aware of their emotional state as the horse responds in reaction to their behavior.”
This ability of horses to help patients identify healthy and unhealthy behaviors in themselves was one of the aspects that equine therapist Franklin Levinson cited as among the most beneficial components of the practice.

“[A horse reacts] as a mirror to the person who’s with him,” Levinson said in an interview with Julie Brown that appeared in Your Horse magazine. “A horse will become very fearful if he’s with someone who’s aggressive, noisy, disrespectful or too controlling. On the other hand, if the person makes requests rather than demands the horse will begin to cooperate. He is always looking for a leader.”

To Nancy Jarrell, the assistant clinical director of Sierra Tucson, the “magical encounter between horse and human” remains both motivating and mysterious. Writing in the May 31, 2005 edition of Counselor magazine, Jarrell noted that her years of equine-related experiences and observations have done nothing to diminish the inspiration she draws from the impact horses can have in the lives of trouble teens.

“I continue to be awed when I repeatedly observe the horse respond to a client in a way that specifically targets his or her issue that yearns for healing,” she wrote.

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Study Suggests that Equine Therapy is Effective

By Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT
~ 1 min read

Certainly anyone willing to try an alternative therapy like equine therapy might also wonder if it is truly effective. And yet, typically, alternative therapies also are shy on research, and finding valid, and relevant studies can be challenging.

In terms of the concerns over effectiveness, equine therapy is no different. However, a new study, recently published in Health Psychology should lay some concerns to rest.

In a review of research already conductedfor both physical and psychological challenges using equine therapy, Alison Selby of the Child and Family Guidance Centers in Plano, Texas. Using the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) Selby looked at the results of 104 studies and found that 9 out of 14 individual reports, showed significant positive outcomes as a direct result of working with horses. Positive outcomes in terms of the equine therapy studies were described as decreased behavioral, psychological, physical, and psychosocial challenges.

Not surprisingly, while demonstrating beneficial outcomes on physical and psychological challenges, equine therapy also had a very positive overall effect on mood. However, Selby did note that, “especially longitudinal studies and comparisons with established effective treatments,” would be needed to more comprehensively provide support for the efficacy of equine therapy.

Through this review of a very large amount of data, Selby’s research is a very promising step for equine therapy in that it does answer the question, “Is equine therapy effective for a broad spectrum of people?”

Now, as Selby mentions, the question remains, “Do the positive changes experienced as a result of working with horses last over a period of months and even years?”

We will be looking forward to future research to answer this question, but for now, we can enjoy some times with horses, knowing that our mood will be the better for it.

Selby, A., Smith-Osborne, A. (2012). A systematic review of effectiveness of complementary and adjunct therapies and interventions involving equines. HealthPsychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029188

article reposted from:http://blogs.psychcentral.com/equine-therapy/2013/01/equine-therapy-effective-a-new-study-suggests-so/

Happy horsewoman photo available from Shutterstock