In my work as Horse Specialist in a local equine therapy program, I see transformation, both momentary and life-changing, in every client. The more I watch, the more I’m convinced that simply being in the presence of horses is healing, calming, and nourishing – not just for self-proclaimed horse people, but for anyone willing to be receptive. So while I’m not the least bit surprised, I am thoroughly pleased at the results of a recent study by Ohio State University, which highlighted the benefits of equine therapy on people with dementia. The study showed those who received the treatment were more responsive and engaged than their counterparts who did not visit the farm.
Here’s my favourite bit:
Some clients who never wanted to leave their wheelchair asked for help in standing up; others who rarely wanted to walk stood up and walked unassisted, though a caretaker was always there to help them balance. The clients grew more physically active on each visit to the farm.
Family members reported that their loved one remained engaged with the experience even after returning home. One commented to researchers that her mother “would never remember what she did at the center during the day, but she always remembered what she did at the farm.”