Record Eagle Letters to the Editor: Equine Therapy

Ten years ago, when Peace Ranch began offering equine-assisted psychotherapy to the community, it was that “crazy horse thing.” With increasing awareness and expansion of equine assisted activities, we often hear confusion about the different equine programs.

There are three general categories of equine programs: medical, recreational and mental health. All are beneficial, but have very different goals and professional oversight.

Medical equine programs are directed by medical professionals (OT, PT, speech therapy) toward the patient’s medical goals (strength, stability, balance). Recreational equine programs are directed by an equine instructor toward the student’s goal of learning the care, handling or riding of horses. Mental Health equine programs are directed by a team: a master’s level clinician (social work, psychology) and an equine specialist who works with the client toward the resolution of mental health issues — trauma, depression, anxiety — relationships and/or personal growth. Peace Ranch falls into the latter category with EAGALA-certified teams bound by ethical and continuing education requirements.

If you’re seeking an equine program for yourself or a loved one, identify your goals (medical, recreational or mental health), ask about the program’s goals and who provides the services.

Janice Stump
Traverse City