What are Equine Assisted Activities?
Terminology in this area can be diverse, equine assisted activity (EAA) provides a collective term for equine interventions and activities. All equine interventions are different and unique in what they provide. All activities are led by qualified, trained professionals who incorporate the horse/donkey into their practice to provide a therapy, therapeutic or learning experience for their clients that can have major benefits for human health and well being.
This refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool. The movement of the walking horse is utilized to achieve treatment outcomes in physical health, such as improvements in motor skills, core strength, posture, cognitive impairment, and speech and language development.
Tailored horseback riding lessons for individuals with special needs. This is taught by experienced instructors who have received specialized training and are often certified to work with students with disabilities. These instructors adapt their teaching style, the environment and/or equipment to facilitate acquisition of riding skills and participation in an enjoyable activity.
Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT)
Provided by licensed/credentialed healthcare practitioner who offers services such as counselling for the purpose of treating mental health disorders and improving a person’s mental health. When horses are part of mental health services, the mental health practitioner incorporates elements from interactions with horses and the environment into their existing clinical approach as a way to enhance the therapeutic process.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)
Psychotherapy is a process whereby psychological problems are treated through communication and relationship factors between an individual and a trained psychotherapist. When horses are part of psychotherapy, the practitioner incorporates elements from interactions with horses and the environment into their existing clinical approach as a way to enhance the therapeutic process. They do this by creating a safe, supportive space for the client to reflect, communicate and build positive relationships. EAP sessions usually involve unmounted, ground activities rather than riding activities.
Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)
Led by a certified facilitator, there is a wide range of professionals in this area and they include equine interactions in the learning service they provide. The focus on the services varies (e.g., self-esteem, relationship building, personal growth, team teamwork, academic skills). When horses are part of the learning process, the educator/facilitator incorporates elements from interactions with horses and the environment into their existing learning approach as a way to enhance the learning process. EAL sessions are usually ground based and are particularly well suited for group activities as participants can learn from each other, however there is the option for 1-1 also.