A Brief Introduction to Equine Therapy

Closeup of three  heads of a horses

Equine therapy, also known as equestrian- or equine-assisted therapy, is a form of treatment that makes use of horses to help promote emotional development.

Equine therapy has proven to be particularly helpful when applied to patients with ADD, anxiety, autism, dementia, emotional and mental developmental delays, Down syndrome, depression, traumatic brain injuries, as well as behavioural issues.

Equine therapy has been recognised as an important area of the medical field in many countries as it has helped to improve the lives of thousands of people around the world.

The Universal Language of Equine Therapy

Not only has equine therapy improved the lives of people living with the conditions listed above, but it is also an effective technique used by many therapists and councillors to educate troubled youth on how to follow instructions and how to react appropriately.

For instance, when starting out with equine therapy, students are tasked with getting the horse to move outside of a circle without even touching the animal.

Many students will try to clap, whistle, or yell but the horse will simply not heed the signal. In this way students, as well as parents and friends who are part of the therapy experience, learn that clapping, forcing, and yelling are not effected ways to get a person to do something.

Why Use Horses for Therapy?

Horses are the most commonly used animal for therapy, but elephants, dolphins, cats, and dogs are also used in many instances, the latter especially for those that are unable to gain access to the outdoors.

However, horses are the most popular as they have the ability to respond immediately to stimuli and given instantaneous feedback to the patient’s action or behaviour.

They may not always be the most feasible option though, and patients are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Just like the way you’d go about getting NRL betting tips may differ to the next persons, each patient has different needs and these must be assessed upfront.

Horses are also able to mirror the emotional state of the patient making them an effective tool of learning. As horses behave similarly to human beings in their social and responsive behaviour, it is at all times easy for patients to form a connection with the therapy horse.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Equestrian Training

When equine therapy is practised correctly by a certified therapist, people with cognitive disabilities, psycho-motor disabilities, and behaviour disabilities show positive results.

Much like physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy, patients with disabilities are assisted by a certified equine therapist to manage their disability, but equine therapy combines all three in a way that doesn’t make patients feel that they are undergoing therapy.

The aim of equine therapy is for patients to:

  • Establish a sense of self-worth
  • Improve communication
  • Establish trust
  • Build self-efficiency
  • Develop socialisation and decrease isolation
  • Learn impulse control
  • Learn emotional management
  • Establish limits and boundaries

Activities Used in Equine Therapy

The activities used in equine therapy are not limited to horseback riding as many patients may feel intimidated or fearful of the horse’s size and may take time to develop a sense of confidence around the horse. As such, included in the equine therapy are lessons on horse care, grooming, saddling, and basic equestrian skills.

The process or techniques applied during an equine therapy session will be dependent on the patient and their type of disorder or the severity, but the primary techniques used by equine therapists are:

  • Cognitive therapy

  • Practising activities
  • Activity scheduling
  • Play therapy
  • Storytelling
  • Talk therapy

It’s important to remember that safety is the primary concern in all equine therapy associated activities and therapist ensure that all patients wear helmets and other protective gear.

Horse Breeds And Their Different Temperaments


If you’ve ever spent a substantial amount of time with different horses, you will know that each one has a personality of their own, much like humans. The behaviour of a horse can be influenced over time by a variety of factors, such as their upbringing, where they were raised, and how well they are treated.

Despite all this, there are some personality traits and temperaments that are endemic to certain breeds, as any seasoned trainer will tell you. That’s why each breed has different kinds of training, which is often also specialised further for that specific animal and its needs.

This can be apparent if you’re an avid horse enthusiast, or you follow horse racing betting sites – they will all show you the same thing: that different breeds act and behave in ways that other breeds simply do not emulate.

As far as temperament is concerned, there are generally two kinds of breeds: hot-blooded, and cold-blooded. We will discuss both, and which breeds fit into which group.

Hot-Blooded Breeds

As you may have guessed, a hot-blooded breed tends to be the kind of horse that is high strung, full of energy, nervous, and often with fiery tempers. These are the kinds of horses that are generally much harder to train, but at the same time, are often some of the best competitors in the racing scene.

Long distance and speed racing are the best attributes of these breeds, which usually make up for the time and patience it takes to train them.

  • Thoroughbred: the Thoroughbred is well known across the world as a fast, powerful horse that has dominated race tracks for generations. They’re mostly used for racing, mounted athletics, and jumping, and although they take much longer to train, they also tend to be much more competitive than other breeds.
  • Anglo Arabian: A cross between a Thoroughbred and an Arabian that has retained the best traits of both, the Anglo Arabian is not so much a racer as a recreational horse. They are much easier to train, but are highly strung, and overreact in stressful situations.
  • Arabian: One of the oldest breeds on record, Arabians have had a lot of influence on many of the world’s modern breeds, especially where genes are concerned. The Arabian is a runner, and enjoys long distance riding like few other horses, but they are easily scared, and their curiosity can sometimes land them in a tight spot.

Cold-Blooded Breeds

A cold-blooded breed is the complete opposite to the hot-blooded, and while many of the breeds to share some similar personality traits; they are much easier to train and not as highly strung. Cold-blooded breeds are usually quite tall and muscular, and due to their calm natures and strong stature, they have made popular workhorses in the past.

  • Shire: A huge horse that is often seen pulling a carriage, these gentle giants are generally quite docile and hard working. Their patience has made them excellent companions in the past, especially on long journeys through rough country.
  • Clydesdale: Another large, taller horse, the Clydesdale has been used as a farm labourer for hundreds of years, and are quite unique due to their intelligence and high spirits. They’re also quite an energetic breed, and can still be found on farms across the world today.

There are many more horse breeds in the world, and while we’ve only covered a few, these breeds are the ones that most people have come across or heard of at least once before, and are favourites for modern day trainers.

The Fundamentals of Horse Racing

Horse Racing – The Basics

Horse racing is one of the world’s most popular competitive sports, and continues to be a powerful force in the sporting world. The sport itself can be traced back thousands of years, as horses have always been raced due to their speed and stamina. Modern racing as we know it today has only existed for the last two hundred years or so, and has not changed much in that time.

While there are many types of horse racing found throughout the world, we will focus mostly on the most popular type: flat racing. Flat racing is a horse race that is done on a flat racecourse, usually done over a predetermined distance, and each race has different requirements that, including the breed of the horse, and the type of class the horse is.

Flat racing has seen substantial growth in popularity over the last several decades, and like pokies online, this is thanks in large part to the massive betting scene that has grown and prospered around the sport. Horse race betting is a favourite pastime for enthusiasts the world over, and makes for some truly thrilling entertainment. If you’re interested in taking up horse race betting, or simply want to know more about how flat racing works, read on to find out more.

All About Flat Racing

While flat racing distances are predetermined, they will always be within a certain lengths, such as 2 furlongs – which is 402 metres – up to 4.8 km. The distance depends on the host of the track, the class and breed of the horses participating, and the event that is taking place. Most flat races are done in either a test of speed, stamina, or a combination of the two, and is often also a test of how well the jockey can perform on the back of their racer.

Despite all the breeds that take part in flat racing, the Thoroughbred has been the dominant breed for the last two hundred years thanks to its unparalleled speed and endurance. Some of the greatest flat racers in history were Thoroughbred, such as Man ‘o War and Secretariat.

While most flat race surfaces are made up of short grass, they can vary depending on where the racecourse is. It can also depend on the breed taking part, as some breeds perform better on certain surfaces.

In colder countries that tend to snow often, courses will often be synthetic to disallow them from freezing over and causing the horses to slip. These all-weather surfaces are made up of a mixture of sand and/or rubber and synthetic fibre, and covered by a special type of wax in many cases.

Other Types of Popular Horse Racing

Flat racing is the most followed horse racing in the world, that much is true, but there are other types that have gained massive popularity.

Jump racing is another, and this is where the horses are required to jump over special hurdles. There is also harness racing, where the animal has to wear a harness and pull a sulky.

Horse racing shows no sign of slowing down, and if you’re interested, there has never been a better time to get involved.

Equestrian Disciplines – Horse Training Disciplines Worth Knowing


Barrel racing

Barrel racing is rodeo event originally developed for women; the origin is thought to be Texas (where else?) The originally runs were either a figure eight or the cloverleaf pattern, though it changed to simply be the cloverleaf pattern which had the popular vote.

The purpose of barrel racing is to complete the pattern as fast as possible. The timer for a run starts as the horse and tide cross the start line and ends once the entire barrel run is completed and the horse and rider cross the finish line. The only rule for the sport is the fastest time wins, as long as you complete the course correctly.


Dressage basically means training in French, so it is the art of training your horse and controlling it. This discipline requires a high skill of horse riding and is considered the highest expression of horse training by leading equestrians.

The point of dressage is for the horse to be so well trained that they respond to a bare minimum of direction by the rider and perform the pre determined set of movements.

Dressage is even an Olympic event, and competitions often consist of individual tests that increase each time with difficulty.  Some movements in these tests include the Passage, a trot that seems to have the horse pause between each stride or a Pirouette which is a 360 turn in place. This is an art form and can be as enjoyable as playing the online pokies NZ has to offer. When you have time, look up some Dressage and learn exactly how disciplined a horse can be.

Show Jumping

Show jumping is one of the most well known and popular equestrian sports today. This forms part of the English riding events, but is practiced worldwide and is also part of the Olympics.

There are few classes under show Jumpers, Hunters, Jumpers or hunt seat Equitation classes.

4Hnters are judged by how well they meet the standard set for manners and style, where as Jumpers are scored numerically on whether they attempted a jump, clear it and finished the set course in the required time.

The Equitation class is the judging of the rider’s abilities on the horse, and is similar to the Hunter style in scoring.


Another well known equestrian discipline often thought to be a sport of the rich, famous or royal. Thought to have originated in the Middle East, either in the 6th century BC or up to the 1st Century AD, many peoples and civilisations have played some variation of this sport since then.

Polo is one of the few equestrian team sports, and the objective is to drive a small ball into your opponent’s goal, and thereby scoring.

Polo is popular in the Modern age with its most common players being found in England, India, USA and most well known in Argentina.


Racing is the most popular equestrian sport, with thousands of people following the races, horses, jockeys and trainers avidly. Plenty of bets are made and loads of fun and excitement is had with a day at the races.

With a history going back to Ancient times, horse racing in one form or the other has been with mankind for a long time. Horse racing can include chariot racing, jump racing or the most well known Flat racing.

The Art of Horse Training


So you want to get a horse and train that horse? Believe us when we say it is not all black beauty or The Horse Whisperer, it takes a lot of dedication and time to correctly train a horse. Yes some people are naturals with horses, but for the mere mortal non horse whisperer, we give you some basics to get you started before the intense higher level training efforts.

Before starting the training, remember horse care – as we have discussed before, a health horse is a happy horse. So make sure you get the basics right, like shelter, feed and grooming. This simple basic of making sure your horse is as healthy as absolutely possible, will greatly assist when trying to train the horse.

The top two basics to focus on before intense training starts:

Groundwork – Before jumping on your horse and riding off to the sunset, you should start with groundwork. Meaning you do not even get on the horse! Just like you’d practice before playing online roulette NZ games for real money, do some research, or hire a professional to train you and start out with your new adventure in horse training.

Try getting these basics of groundwork training done before moving on:

Leading – lead your horse from point A to B

Touching – touching your horse acclimates it to being around you and being touched all over by you. Start with stroking the horse with both your hands and move on too grooming your horse. Grooming is essential to creating a friendship with your horse, and horse love good grooming.

Pressure – training your horse to yield to physical pressure when applied to certain body parts. For example pushing backwards on the horse’s nose so that the horse yields and moves backwards. Or applying a small amount of pressure to the chest to make the horse take a step back.

Indirect pressure – this is training your horse to respond without apply pressure. The movements are similar to the direct pressure training but requires more energy from you to enforce your direction on the horse. This takes patience and skill from both you and the horse, so take your time.

Groundwork can be extremely challenging but also very enjoyable, so start with basic groundwork skills and conquer them – then move on to the more advanced groundwork skills.

Horse manners are similar to groundwork; there are a few basic manners a horse should be taught in order to ensure the rest of the training goes as smooth as possible.

– Enter a trailer – this goes in hand with being lead, as a horse needs to put easily in a trailer safely for travel or for emergency situations

– Stay – Getting a horse to hold position is part of indirect pressure and is relevant to both your and the horses safety. If a horse does not listen to commands and stay as ordered he could hurt both you and itself.

– Allow them to be caught – You need to train your horse to be caught when called, as a horse that will not allow itself to be caught is basically impossible to train. This is also urgent for emergency situations like evacuations.

– Stand for hoof inspection – as a horse’s hooves should be trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks, it makes life a lot simpler if a horse is trained to allow its feet touched anytime.

How to Catch a Horse That’s Hard to Catch


Not being able to catch your horse when you need to is a very frustrating experience. Chasing it down, or tricking it into letting you approach is not a great way to begin the time you are going to be spending together either.

It really is worth spending a while teaching your horse to be caught safely: after all, not only does having to out-think and out-maneuver a horse that doesn’t want to be caught tax your time and patience, there may be a time that it is vital that you do so quickly, too.

Perhaps a farrier has arrived, or your vet needs to look at your animal -or maybe the race you are wagering on at one of the many Australian betting sites providing instant access is beginning. Whatever the case, you should always be able to catch your horse when you want to!

Rethink Turning Your Horse Out with a Halter On

As a general rule, horses should not be turned out with their halters still on them. However, while you are in the middle of retraining it so that it can be caught quickly and easily, you may want to consider keeping a leather crowned halter on it, even when it is in the pasture.

Horses have been known to entangle themselves when trying to scratch an ear with one of their hind feet, or hooking a halter on a gate and getting hung up that way. Leather halters and those with breakaway crowns are the safer option if either of these situations occur.

Associate Being Caught with Good Things

If you want to consistently be able to catch your horse when you want to, the most important thing you can do is convince it that this action will not always lead to discomfort or work. You can do this by spending time with your horse doing things that do not count as either of these.

Start off by visiting it in the pasture or paddock. Clean up its manure, check the fences -basically do anything but approach the animal. Should your horse eventually approach you, do not reach out to try and catch it. Let it approach, let it sniff at you if it wants to, and then walk away.

Don’t allow your horse to walk away from you -you want to ensure that you are always the final decision maker in any exchange you have with it. Several short visits a day will be more effective than one occasional long one, too.

Watch Your Body Language

When you are approaching your horse, don’t march smartly up to it, full of an obvious intention and definite purpose!

If you do this, it will very likely read your body language correctly and make for the hills! Try softening your body and meandering towards it in a relaxed fashion.

Avoid direct eye contact, and make sure not to approach its head or tail. Using your peripheral vision, make your way towards its neck or shoulder.