For addicts who struggle with the disease of addiction, there are a wide range of treatment options they can choose from in order to find what is best for their unique needs. Most residential and outpatient treatment facilities feature a wide range of services including chemical detoxification, residential treatment programs, and behavioral therapy to name a few. While these services are extremely effective in helping addicts overcome their addiction, these programs have their limits on the benefits they provide. In cases where clients are having difficulty moving forward in their journey to recovery, having alternative therapy options such as equine therapy may help them move past those barriers.

Equine therapy can be extremely helpful in helping addicts gain control over their addiction and find their true inner self. Increasingly, equine therapy programs are becoming more and more common at various substance abuse treatment centers worldwide. Equine therapy is an integral part of Guardian Recovery Network’s intensive outpatient program. For more information, call us toll-free at (888) 693-1894.

What is Equine Therapy?

equine theraqpy

Simply defined, equine therapy is the use of horses in a therapy-based treatment setting. The use of this type of therapy allows clients struggling with substance abuse and other issues to experience emotional growth and personal development. Along with other forms of animal-centered therapies, equine therapy has been effective in a variety of treatment scenarios for children, adolescents, and adults. Those who take part in equine therapy while recovering from substance abuse often experience several life changing benefits and working with horses can be seen as a complementary part of an overall and comprehensive treatment plan. As stated previously, equine therapy is especially useful in treating people who have not shown improvement with other types of drug rehab treatment, such as therapy or counseling.

How Guardian Recovery Network’s Equine Therapy Program Works

girl with a chestnut pony

Horses offer unique opportunities for emotional growth in the recovery process because they have the uncanny ability to precisely mirror what human body language is communicating to them. In general, we are able to hide our feelings pretty well from those around us–and this is especially true with those addicted to drugs. Horses are extremely honest creatures that are able to mirror emotions and attitudes and are able to see us at face value and they understand at the deepest levels who we really are as human beings. This provides a unique opportunity for our clients to understand how their behaviors affect themselves and others as well as develop new ways of thinking about old behavior patterns.

In Guardian Recovery Network’s equine therapy program, clients are able to  interact with horses in a series of exercises carefully designed to develop and enhance verbal and non-verbal communication as well as problem-solving, leadership, creative thinking, relationship skills, trust, confidence, and responsibility. Addicts will be able to develop a relationship with the horse while tending to its basic needs which include feeding, grooming, and exercise. What is important to note is that our program, like many others, do not include riding. This is due to the fact that many of the horses used in equine therapy are either too old for regular riding or have suffered injuries that render them unrideable.

How Equine Therapy Fits Into Treatment and its Benefits

equine therapy session

The equine therapy program at Guardian Recovery Network provides addicts with a number of substantial benefits that traditional counseling and therapy alone cannot provide. First, equine therapy helps addicts to replacing those unhealthy and destructive habits that led to and perpetuated their addiction. Addicts who take part in our unique horse therapy program will learn to take responsibility and maintain a regular and healthy schedule. Combined with traditional therapy and counseling, this helps to encourage and empower clients to examine the choices they make now and in the future.

Second, our equine program helps improve an addict’s self-worth and self-esteem. Many of those who struggle with substance abuse will experience significant feelings of inadequacy and diminished self-confidence. By working with horses in a structured therapy setting, it can help boost an individual’s sense of confidence and dignity. As they establish a relationship with the horse, it allows them to gain the horse’s trust and unconditional love. These feelings the horse shows towards the addict can be new experiences and those emotions and feelings can be powerfully affirming. Ultimately, the newly recovering addict often feels a great sense of accomplishment during these sessions.

Third, working with horses also teaches addicts how to be more effective in managing their behaviors. Addiction is frequently accompanied by aggressive or violent tendencies or behaviors. These behaviors often end up endangering the addict, as well as his or her loved ones. As addicts learn to communicate with and care for the horse, they begin to understand how the horse reacts to their moods and attitudes. The horse’s reaction to the addict’s behavior helps them distinguish between harmful behaviors and acceptable ways of asserting themselves.

Additionally, a great benefit of the equine therapy program at Guardian Recovery Network is the fact that the program provides a “second career”  for retired thoroughbred and work horses and allows them to feel a renewed sense of love and belonging. Clients are welcomed and encouraged to visit the horses at any point during their free time to get to know these majestic creatures better through feeding, care and grooming. When they do so, they can connect with a kindred spirit.

Are You Looking For a Breakthrough In Your Recovery?

If you are seeking drug and alcohol treatment for yourself or for a loved one, you want to find a drug treatment facility which employs a wide variety of therapeutic and treatment methods that will give you the best chance at achieving long-term recovery.  Guardian Recovery Network’s equine therapy program can provide you an excellent opportunity to work with animals while experiencing substantial growth that will help you move away from a life of addiction and towards one of confidence, inner peace and serenity. Contact us today at (888) 693-1894 and experience your own breakthrough in recovery.


Reviewed for accuracy by:

Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.