Promoting Emotional Healing

Equine therapy is not horseback riding. The interaction between our residents and horses helps to build trust and a better understanding of one’s self.

Horses often mirror human feelings, and our program allows for opportunities to better understand emotions and responsibilities to something other than one’s self.

Equine therapy has been successful in helping our clients show marked improvements in the following areas.


Horses are herd animals, but not everyone can be part of their herd. Part of interacting with a horse successfully in equine therapy involves the development of trust. Horses are very in tune with emotional cues.

Similarly, horses tend to be free spirits. They can attempt to run faster than is safe or misbehave. Part of the relationship with the horse is gently leading the horse to safe, well-trodden roads. When our cravings, our minds, or our loved ones attempt to steer us to places that we are not ready to go, steering ourselves back to where we need to be is a critical skill. It is in this way that horses help teach riders to enforce their boundaries.

Learning to get a horse to trust and move with you in equine therapy requires that you respect both your own and the animal’s boundaries. In a world where respect and kindness are the key to functioning relationships, this lesson can help clients learn the importance of boundaries in an enjoyable and beautiful way.


When setting boundaries, you will learn to lead your horse with confidence and kindness. This requires assertion while keeping the animal’s trust intact through gentleness. Our minds require the same compassionate confidence during addiction. When our brains send out craving signals and attempt to steer themselves, we have to gently move them back to where we know they need to go.

Emotional Awareness

When suffering from addiction, it’s very important to know how we’re feeling. By checking in with ourselves and accurately gauging where we are emotionally, we can know how likely we are to relapse, to exhibit anger, or fall into depression.

Horses are incredibly expressive. However, they are markedly nonverbal. Learning to understand horses means we have to learn how to read body movements, eye movements, and other nonverbal signs. This makes us better able to read our own behaviors. By understanding how we’re acting and what we’re experiencing we can become more in tune with ourselves to maintain sobriety.


Part of preventing relapse is understanding the stigma of addiction. This is impossible without empathy for yourself and others who suffer from the disorder. During equine therapy, learning to understand what a horse may be feeling and thinking from purely nonverbal signs trains advanced emotional intelligence. Clients will find that this new emotional intelligence will help them grow empathy for themselves and the horse. By using this empathy, they exercise its power to create meaningful and healing connections. This will help clients to learn the necessary skills for maintaining mental health at home.

Impulse Control

Learning to be gentle with a horse during equine therapy even when you’re annoyed is a fine art. However, it is absolutely necessary as a horse requires a good deal of respect and compassion. This is a key skill in recovering from addiction and relapse prevention.

Horses can also contribute to our clients’ mental health by developing powerfully healing skills and values, such as:

  • Problem-solving
  • Self-acceptance
  • Social responsibility
  • Spiritual connection
  • Trust

Engaging with another living being in a relationship based on trust, exploration, and connection can be one of the most enjoyable ways to learn necessary skills in overcoming addiction. We provide equine therapy near you, serving the East Bay, Sacramento, the North Bay, and the South Bay. Let’s begin this incredible journey today. Call Olympia House rehab facility at (888) 795-1965.