There are four types of equine therapy, namely:
- Equine facilitated psychotherapy (EFP)
- Equine facilitated learning (EFL)
- Therapeutic riding
Equine facilitated therapy
Equine facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) is also known as equine assisted psychotherapy, equine facilitated mental health and equine assisted counseling. EFP promotes and practices interaction with horses to assist individuals with emotional and mental disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and mood disorder, those with behavioral problems and those going through a death in the family or life changes.
A licensed therapist should be more likely to conduct the counseling or psychotherapy. Therapist can work together with an equine specialist when dealing with many clients simultaneously including their families and groups. The therapist may make use of one or a herd of horses.
Equine facilitated learning
Equine facilitated learning (EFL) is also known as equine assisted personal development, equine facilitated experiential learning, equine facilitated personal growth and equine assisted coaching. EFL is also one of the four types of equine therapy that can be used effective for the youth and adults. EFL offers a variety of emotional and social activities based on horse experiences. EFL can effectively provided a positive result to a client even though it offers activity which are therapeutic in nature.
Practitioners of EFL use transpersonal experiences from animal communication to shamanism so as to improve cognitive functions including strategies to reach goals and organize behavior. Some practitioners invoke self-awareness while training clients with mindfulness skills as a recovery tool for those who usually make poor choices or those who are under high stress.
Hippotherapy as one of the four types of equine therapy should also be performed by a licensed and trained physical, speech or occupational and language therapist who will reliably make use of the characteristic movements of the horse to improve motor skills and sensory input of patients. Sensorimotor integration in hippotherapy develops neurological function as well as sensory processing as a result of different daily activities. The movement of the horse is an essential part of the therapy as a treatment tool.
Therapeutic riding is performed by a riding instructor guided by a hippotherapist. The patient is subjected to horseback riding that will help improve the physical, emotional and social state of the patient. Those who will benefit from this treatment are children with cerebral palsy or Downs syndrome and is also considered reliable to individuals with autism and sensory integration disorder. Therapeutic riding is also effective for language development and trauma recovery in children. Therapeutic riding allows the rhythmic movement of the rider’s body in a way similar to human gait which translates into the improvement of muscle strength, balance and flexibility of a person with disability.