Equine-Assisted Therapy, also known as therapy using horses, is an alternative treatment method that involves interacting with horses to improve one's physical, emotional, and cognitive health. Therapeutic Horsemanship is another term for learning skills as a rider or as an unmounted individual and benefiting from the equine interaction.
We offer a 6-week program (1-2 sessions a week) with a trained instructor. We match one of our specially trained horses to each individual. Each session is structured around specific goals and activities that are tailored to the client's individual needs and abilities. The program may also involve ongoing communication and collaboration with the patient's healthcare team to ensure that the therapy is integrated into the patient's overall treatment plan. When appropriate, we may work in conjunction with a client's physical therapist, occupational therapist, counselor or neurologist alongside the horse!
We offer classes to a variety of clients, however, we offer specialty programming curated and researched specifically for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Parkinson's Disease.
At Park Horse Project, an equine therapy session for children and adults with ASD, consists of our PATH International trained instructor working with the client and a horse in a structured and supervised environment. The instructor may use activities such as grooming, feeding, and riding the horse to encourage the client to interact with the animal and practice social skills, such as taking turns, following directions, and maintaining eye contact. The instructor may also use the horse's natural movements and behavior to help the client improve balance, coordination, and body awareness.
Therapeutic horsemanship can be particularly beneficial, as it can help improve social skills, communication, and sensory processing. Horses are naturally calm and non-judgmental animals, which can help create a calming environment for patients with ASD who may struggle with sensory overload and anxiety in traditional therapy settings.
Studies show that equine therapy may be beneficial for patients with Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement and can cause tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
Our program focuses on 10 key movements that target areas such as balance, posture, flexibility, and strength. These movements are specifically geared those addressing PD symptoms. When combined with the natural gait of the horse and the neurologic mirroring, success is often achieved.
The program also incorporates cognitive and sensory challenges to help clients improve their gait function and reduce the risk of falls.
When combined with a clients chosen medical and therapeutic tract, the Park Horse Project programming may help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease while improving overall well-being and quality of life.
Children and adults with movement disorders, past trauma, and other challenges often do not have adequate therapeutic options available to them. Incorporating horses outside of an office clinical setting has been shown to increase interest and enthusiasm, and breakthroughs often occur in the therapeutic moment between the horse and client. In an equine therapy session, the equine is in tune with human behavior and require the individual to be aware of their surroundings, focus on movement, enabling and improving the brain to muscle connection.
Interacting with animals decreases stress-related hormone cortisol and lowers a person’s blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health. As an engagement tool, animals reduce feelings of loneliness and increase feelings of social support.