Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a type of therapy in which horses play an active role in the therapeutic process. Equine-assisted learning (EAL) aids participants in self-discovery and the development of life and social skills through interactions with horses. Both modalities rely on the horse’s unique abilities to interact with humans on a level unavailable in most other therapeutic or learning environments.
Horses are intuitive, honest and responsive. As herd animals, they are highly social and empathic, relying on their relationships with one another for comfort, safety and survival. As prey animals, they are extremely sensitive to their physical and energetic environment. Each horse has an individual personality, strengths and challenges, opinions and preferences.
Tender Little Hearts uses the utmost care in cleanliness of our miniature equines. Horses are bathed or have dander and dust blown out with a leaf blower prior to all visits. The eyes, nose and face are wiped prior to entering facilities.
Our minis do wear a potty bag, just in case.
Special rubber soled shoes are used to avoid slipping on smooth surfaces.
All grooming supplies, equine therapy shoes and vests are washed and disinfected between visits for the safety of our most vulnerable seniors and immunocompromised patients.
If you have any questions regarding our infection control measures, please give us a call, 480-318-3281.
Your safety is our PRIORITY!
Equine Assisted Services - Equine AssistedTherapy
Who Can Benefit from Equine Therapy?
For thousands of years the bond between man and animal has proven to be effective in emotional healing. Equine Therapy can benefit everyone in one way or another. It can provide persons with a range of challenges and/or disabilities a way to build strength and confidence and help those with mental illness and individuals who have suffered emotional trauma the means to cope.
Elderly – Being with the horses gives them a sense of purpose and responsibility. They forget about life's troubles and enjoy their time caring for, brushing, and petting the horses.
Military Service Members and Others who Suffer from Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (such as PTSD) – Petting and grooming horses eases aggressiveness, nervousness, stress, depression, and more.
People Who Struggle with Addiction – Can provide immediate feedback for feelings of uneasiness and stress, enable coping skills, opportunities to strengthen personal relationships, and trust-building.
Autistic Children and Adults – Interacting with the horses creates an emotional bond between horse and handler. Sensory benefits, cognitive and language skills development, emotional bonding, and more.
Families, Leaders, Couples and Teams - Equines natural response to human behavior provides individuals insight into their own behaviors they may need to change.
Reading – Children are more likely to verbally read to a nonjudgmental listener.
Making friends, warming hearts, sharing smiles, and spreading joy, one tender little heart at a time.
In recent years, much of the research into human-animal interactions has expanded beyond a pets’ influence on mental health to also examine the neurochemical and physiological changes that occur when we connect with animals. Ongoing research demonstrates that animals can have a salutary impact on cardiovascular issues, reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and numerous cardiovascular risk factors. Patients with animals have been found to have better survival rates after heart attacks.
Medical practitioners, psychologists, social workers, reading specialists, occupational and physical therapists, health care professionals and others in many different fields are tapping into the unique human-animal bond for its therapeutic value.
Therapy animals can reduce stress in patients. Therapeutic equine activities are widely used to strengthen muscles in people with a wide range of physical disabilities and neurological conditions.
Research suggests that petting a friendly animal reduces our levels of cortisol and increases our natural mood-enhancing hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. Whether increasing ambulation among recovering heart-failure patients, or offering a better quality of life for trauma victims, therapy animals can be good for our health.
Animal assisted therapy has positive effects on children and adults with autism. Animals have features that are not available to humans, which work positively to the symptoms of autism. Opposite to low sensory response induced by autism, animals provide powerful multi-sensory stimuli - strong and clear repetitive sounds, vibrant visual images, distinct and special smell and pleasant touch. This contributes to the ability of animals to have a particular non-verbal communication with them. The release of hormones due to contact with animals also leads to the improvement and increase of social interactions of children and adults, even those who develop intense withdrawal from the environment and the people around them.
Animals have been participating for many years in visiting programs in elderly patients with dementia, offering the opportunity to create bonds of affection and fun. However, experts on the disease claim that the benefits for patients can be much more by implementing targeted therapeutic interventions with the assistance of animals. People with dementia may experience various symptoms and behaviors during the course of the disease progression. As the disease progresses, the patient usually cuts off links and contact with the environment and social environment, is isolated and greatly restricts his movement and activities. The presence of a treatment animal has been observed to be the only remaining functional patient communication bridge with the reality around him. Research results show that animal assisted treatment can improve the social and communication behaviors and skills of patients with dementia. Many times, patients can communicate more effectively with animals than with people in their environment. This contact with the animals provides the trigger and the motivating power of their disengagement from the margin and loneliness that has been caused by the disease.
Animal assisted therapy leads to several important benefits for patients suffering from mental illnesses. Its implementation in patients with diagnoses such as depression, autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, can achieve changes in their personality, behavior and physical health. These changes mainly affect the social interactions of patients, as well as the cognitive, psychological and emotional field, which seems to improve the abilities and skills that have been limited due to the underlying disease. New skills are also being cultivated. This improves patients’ self-image and their overall quality of life. The positive benefits of animal involvement in the treatment process leads to the reduction of the onset of negative symptoms caused by mental disorders and the emergence of positive behaviors, mainly concerning the responsibilities and activities of everyday life on behalf of patients.