Horses are wonderful animals that have been man’s companion for ages. Although riding horses can be exhilarating, their healing powers have been recognized for centuries. This explains why equine therapy—a form of experiential therapy involving interactions between patients and horses—has become so popular.
After having been a preserve of drug rehabilitation and psychotherapy programs across the globe, equine therapy has now found its way to spas. As reported in a New York Times article, equine therapy is now offered at spas as a supplement to massages, facials and other types of spa treatments. While it might seem odd for spas to have equine therapy programs as part of their routines, it shouldn’t really come as a shock to anyone who understands the therapeutic value of horses.
Why have equine therapy in spas?
Seeing the success equine therapy has had in assisting different people including troubled teens, veterans struggling with PTSD as well as drug addicts, it’s no surprise that spas want their guests to also reap some of the benefits of equine-facilitated learning.
So how does equine therapy work in a spa setting?
Well, there is no doubt that people who interact or work with horses report feeling a sense of calm. The simple act of grooming, feeding or otherwise caring for a horse results in reduced stress, relaxation and an increased sense of well-being. Which spa client wouldn’t want that?
The other goal behind incorporating equine therapy in spas is self-discovery. Horses are incredibly sensitive and intuitive creatures that can help us learn a lot about ourselves. They react to both verbal and non-verbal cues as well as our body language, the tone of voice, etc. and give instant feedback. Additionally, they are straightforward in their interactions, they don’t blame or judge neither do they lie or manipulate. They simply accept people as they are and most individuals find this incredibly freeing.
Through a combination of groundwork and other simple exercises, spa guests can derive various emotional benefits from interacting with horses. These include:
- Identifying and coping with negative feelings.
- Increased emotional awareness.
- Improved communication skills.
- Increased confidence as one learns to overcome their fears.
- Increased trust which leads to better relationships.
- Learning to set healthy boundaries.
Customized equine therapy programs in spas
Some spas take their equine therapy programs a step further, customizing them to meet specific guests’ needs. For instance, some spas might offer therapeutic riding or even hippotherapy where guests work with a licensed therapist.
Others specialize in offering customized equine-assisted programs for corporates to help in team building, conflict resolution, and innovation. It all depends on the spa facility.
From beasts of burden to therapy animals to helping spa guests relax and make emotional breakthroughs, horses once again prove their worth to man. We can’t wait to see how these wonderful creatures help us out next.