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ADHD, Horses, And Equine Therapy

By Brad On April 6, 2011 Under Alternative Treatments For ADHD

This is definitely a new one for me. Treating ADHD with horses!?!

I found this story on psychcentral entitled “Equine Therapy and ADHD: How It Works“.

The story had some interesting theories about why it works (assuming it does). They say that a person’s hyperactivity is interpreted by a horse as “repressed fear”. A horse normally runs when it’s scared, but since its herd member (the person) doesn’t run, the horse will stay put to keep the “herd” intact. And then the horse will start “provoking” the person to get them to express their “repressed fear”.

It seems to me this theory makes a lot of assumptions about horses and humans.

I am by no mean a “horse person” but I did grow up in the country and I have known quite a few horses and horse trainers.

As far as I know, most horses aren’t really that interested in people and don’t tend to consider them as “part of the herd”. The horse trainer may be seen as the “leader of the herd” (or at least as a part of the herd), but for the most part, horses don’t seem to “care” anything about people. I know that a lot of horse lovers tend to anthropomorphize horse behavior, but it seems to me that most of the time these people go beyond what is really there.

Having said that, I am an animal lover. (I’m not really too wild about “domesticating” and enslaving animals to get them to do what we want them to do though.)  I do know that people can gain a great deal of benefits from interacting with animals of almost any kind. Some of the benefits that are pretty well documented are stress relief, depression relief, and help with some social anxieties.  I’m not really sure about ADHD though.

I’m sure there can be benefits to hanging out with horses if you’ve got ADHD. But I imagine that the same benefits would be gained by a person without ADHD too, so I’m not sure that “therapy” is the right word to use for it.

If it does work, then the “therapy” would be more of a short-term benefit I’d imagine. I’m sure they’re not supposing that it can “cure” ADHD for the long-haul.

Probably just as meditation, yoga, exercise, and other things can help you deal with and even lessen ADHD symptoms, so maybe can equine therapy–assuming that you do it often enough.

I’d definitely like to learn more about this so if you’ve got any data, studies, or information about equine therapy, horses, and ADHD, be sure to leave a comment!

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