What is Equine Assisted Therapy?

An equine assisted therapeutic session may include observing horses in the pasture, grooming, groundwork exercises, leading horses through an obstacle course, mindfulness/body awareness/relaxation, writing/drawing and other creative activities inspired by the horses.

Do you ride the horses?

Groundwork only. There is no horse-back riding.

Who would benefit from these programs?

I specialize in working with at-risk youth, women, first responders and veterans, however, all are welcome. Many clients are dealing with issues like trauma, abuse, PTSD, grief/loss.

Is this covered under my benefits?

I am registered with Medavie Blue Cross as a Health Professional for Veterans and Refugees in the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP).

I am a Certified Therapist with the Nova Scotia Department of Justice Victim Services Program and;

Certified with the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB NS).

Where do sessions take place?

Equine Solace is located in Bridgeville, NS., approximately 19 kms from New Glasgow, about a 20 minute drive. We are located on an 85-acre farm, have an outdoor arena and an office in the barn.

How will Equine Assisted Therapy help me?

Horses offer us the gift of awareness. They give us an opportunity to both receive and give unconditional love. Through building a partnership-based relationship with horses, we can learn to express ourselves, create healthy boundaries and communicate with them through love and connection, versus power and control.

“Horses taught me I was not broken, a victim or ‘less than’ because I had trauma in my life.” (Michelle Holling-Brooks)

Why horses?

Simply being present with horses is powerful. Sharing a nonverbal moment with a horse and developing a relationship with a horse can provide healing to many clients affected by trauma. Horses allow us to feel deeply. They speak to our hearts. By partnering with a horse in a safe environment and creating a relationship with that horse…in that relationship, healing happens.

When is Equine Solace open?

We are open year-round. As some of the work is done outside, appropriate clothing and boots are required. The horses are affected by hot weather and prefer to work when it is cooler, so sessions are scheduled according to what works for the horses as well as clients.

How does it work?

As horses are prey animals, they are keenly aware of their environment. While they are beings with their own emotions, they quickly tune into our emotions and what we present them. They are also huge animals and being around them can bring up fear, distrust, anxiety and other issues. Through working with horses in various exercises in the arena and creating a connection with them, we can begin to work through those issues. Being around horses also just feels good and directly influences our heart rhythm. They allow us to feel deeply and, through this relationship, we can begin to heal.

Is there research to support this?

Yes. Research shows that Equine-Assisted Therapy is effective for treating adolescents experiencing depression, anxiety, and/or trauma-related symptoms, as well as ADHD, autism, dissociative disorders, and other mental health diagnoses. In one representative study, adolescents showed increased confidence, self-esteem, assertiveness, emotional regulation, and resourcefulness as a result of Equine-Assisted Therapy. In some cases, just a few sessions of equine therapy can produce improvement.

Furthermore, equine therapy reduces anxiety and depression through physiological changes. Studies show that animal-assisted therapy reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. In addition, spending time with animals lowers blood pressure. And it increases the release of oxytocin, a natural chemical that promotes feelings of positivity and connection. (Newport Academy, Sept 10, 2019)

Much research is showing that horses are very effective in working with veterans and others with PTSD.