EAT, Equine Assisted Therapy, is a treatment that uses equine activities to help people who struggle with autism, trauma, behavioral issues, ADD, depression, and other mental health issues. I have always loved horses. Growing up I felt a strong, unexplainable connection to them, similar to the way I feel about dogs. I didn’t know at the time that they were therapeutic animals, but I felt it. I use to work with special needs kids and I used to take one of them to EAT sessions in Will Rodgers State Park. His name was Logan, he was twelve, and he had an undiagnosed condition but one that his doctors thought was autism (though his mom did not agree). Anyways, it was very sweet for me to see him interact with the horse. They say horses have the ability to mirror feelings because of their sensitivity from being both a prey and herd animal. If Logan was upset for instance, the horse would sense it and react, which in turn helped Logan become aware of hid feelings. When Logan would walk with the horse, this also helped him with his coordination since he had a hard time controlling his body. The horse would show him if he was making the horse uncomfortable and in general, spending time with the horse helped Logan develop social behaviors.
Other examples of how horses have been healing for people…people that struggle with substance abuse, who have lost touch/become numb with their feelings, will be able to have their feeling mirrored to them by a horse. Also if trauma victims spend time with horses and see one in a frightened state, that may bring up some past trauma that the patient can work through.
Lastly, one of my favorite films is “Secretariat,” and it has to do with a race horse. The horse’s name is Big Red and they say he has so much passion and devotion that he would run until his heart burst. I love the symbolism of this horse. It’s just a beautiful story about how close humans and horses can relate to each other and how horses inspire humans.