Understanding the four basic types of horse therapy

Posted on

There’s more to equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) than meets the eye that extends beyond the simple horseback riding Virginia Beach experience.

Also known as horse therapy, this unique experiential technique is programmed around human interaction with horses and how it can help in treating physical and mental problems.

If you happen to find a facility offering equestrian therapy near me, you might be surprised that it is more than just horseback riding, rather it is a more scientific method in treating people with emotional and mental problems, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), behavioral challenges or those experiencing loss or grief, and so much more.

There are four common types of horse-assisted therapy;

Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP)

Coping with mental problems can be very difficult for a patient and sometimes, there are those who shun the presence of another person and this is where EFP comes in.

EFP must be provided by a trained and licensed therapist as a means to provide counseling and psychotherapy on patients struggling with human interaction. This involves working with individuals, groups or families of the patient in an equine environment either with an individual horse or a herd of horses.

This includes horseback rides, grooming, interacting, caring or attending to the needs of the horse by the patient.

Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL)

This covers a wide range of emotional and social activities focused on learning experiences with horses. EFL professionals are well-trained and licensed practitioners which are often used in dealing with support for youth at risk or those treated for substance abuse or addiction.

These learning experiences are aimed at helping build resiliency, confidence, and boosting self-esteem. It also helps improve cognitive functioning especially in developing strategies to accomplish goals and organizational skills.

Therapeutic Riding

While this is a general term used to describe riding activities, it is often used to specify horseback riding that is used as a therapeutic tool that is aimed at impacting positive cognitive, emotional, social and physical well-being of participants or patients.

This method is often used for children with disabilities such as ad autism, sensory integration disorders, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, language development problems, and trauma recovery.

Therapeutic riding has been proven to benefit thousands of patients all over the world from coping with the effects of physical and mental disabilities and has served to improve their quality of life.


This is a form of occupational, physical, or speech therapy with the concept of utilizing the horse’s movements to be replicated by those who are undergoing therapy.  It uses the movements of horses to provide graded sensory and motor input.

So, when you are looking to for horseback riding Virginia Beach, consider the powerful benefits of horse therapy to improve the lives of thousands of people around the world.