types of equine therapy

Are there different types of equine therapy? How do I know which is right for me? 

Mariposa Center has helped Southern Californians with mental health and recovery since 1977, but equine therapy is the one offering in our “stable” of services that raises the most questions. We’ll explain the different types of equine therapy and how we use them at Mariposa in the sections below.

1. Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is an internationally recognized form of treatment for a variety of physical and mental health challenges. 

Participants recovering from substance abuse, cognitive issues, trauma, and other disorders can benefit from EAP. Horses’ natural empathy, in conjunction with a licensed professional, helps those in treatment identify and process emotional issues in an outdoor environment while performing tasks like grooming, saddling, and riding.

2. Hippotherapy

Hippotherapy, or therapy combined with controlled horseback rides, is another equine-assisted treatment. Occupational therapists, physical therapists, and other medical professionals prescribe it to improve cognitive and motor function. (Note: Actual hippopotamuses are not involved, just horses.) 

Individuals who need to build muscle coordination and sensory processing for walking, talking, and control of fine motor skills can benefit from the inputs that come from riding horses with the assistance of a therapist within a broader recovery strategy.

3. Therapeutic Riding

EAP and hippotherapy incorporate equine-related activities into a broader treatment strategy. Therapeutic riding, while still beneficial, is a recreational activity that provides the benefits of equine interactions for those with disabilities or special needs within the context of riding or animal care lessons.

Also, therapeutic riding programs often focus on making these benefits available to children. Many children demonstrate notable improvements in communication, self-confidence, empathy, and other skills after participating.

Types of Equine Therapy at Mariposa Center

As a non-profit facility in Orange County that offers equine therapy, the Mariposa Center team incorporates EAP as a treatment method for clients recovering from substance abuse and struggling with mental wellness challenges like anxiety and depression.

“We have relied on equine therapy as part of our services for years because the benefits are so powerful. Clients at Mariposa are often surprised by how much of a difference their sessions with horses can make – and frankly, sometimes we are too.”

Krista Driver, LMFT; President & CEO, Mariposa Center

Finally, even though equine therapy isn’t widely available in Orange County, several local organizations offer therapeutic riding programs and other equine-assisted activities that do not require a prescription.

Contact Mariposa Center now to learn more about how equine therapy improves recovery and mental wellness.

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