Equine Therapy in St. George: How Our Relationship With Horses Has Developed

Two Horses in a Field

Horses Have Helped Shape Human History

Horses have influenced our culture in so many ways, and there is no question about that. However, experts have continued to debate the origins of equine-human cooperation. A new DNA study recently revealed that different groups of people across Asia and Europe independently domesticated horses some 10,000 years ago. From agriculture and communication to warfare and transportation, horses have stamped on many aspects of human history. However, experts have very little knowledge about where, when and how humans first harnessed the power of these graceful and powerful creatures. This article will look at the history of horse domestication and that of equine therapy in St. George.

Even though horses began appearing some 30,000 years ago, it is believed that Paleolithic humans hunted them for their meat and milk, which were a staple source of protein in Eurasia and North America at that time. The archeological transition of horses from source of food to pets came to light several years ago in Kazakhstan. Many scholars believe that the Botai people were the first to tame wild horses between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. The theory states that horses were domesticated in a related manner as other animals such as cattle, goats and sheep. DNA analyses have revealed very little genetics from these animals, which points that they could have come from the same descendant.

Domestic local horses were bred with wild horses and spread throughout Asia and Europe. Throughout their history, horses have been traded between populations of different people, interbred, and moved across continents. The earliest evidence that horses were used for riding dates to around 3,000 years BC. The close relationship between humans and horses has changed a lot. For instance, people have recreated horses by developing different breeds working to make the animals stronger, faster, smaller or bigger depending on the role they want the animal to play. And in turn horses have changed human beings because they provided new and different ways to travel, play, trade, work and go about their daily business.

Here are just a few of the ways that horses have affected human culture:

Warfare. For close to 3,000 years, a horse-driven chariot or a warrior on horseback was the ultimate weapon. From Asia to the Americas to Europe, the use of horses during times of war has helped change the balance of power between different civilizations. When warriors on horseback fought with people without horses, the former always carried the day, as the horses provided a huge advantage. When both had horses, it often boiled down to the strategies used by each camp. Up to the 1890s, horses continued to influence military tactics in a very big way. This was until they became outmoded by modern weapons such as tanks, airplanes, and machine guns.

Work. It is true that horses are built for power. They have a muscular body that is heavy on the front than back, enabling them to pull heavy loads due to their balance. Horses can also be agile and quick – they can carry out different difficult tasks besides having speed. For more than 1,000 years, people have depended on the power of horses to achieve their own ends, some unimaginable! For example, horses have been used by humans to clear forests, drive heavy machines, plow land, and herd cattle. As time went by, horses bred for heavier and more demanding jobs have become more flexible, heavier and even stronger. Because people have shaped horses, horses and humans working together has become a common thing and this has shaped the world in very many remarkable ways.

Trade and Transportation. For a very long time, there was no faster way to travel over the land than on a horse. Horses have two advantages when it comes to transporting people and their belongings: they can run very far and very fast. The speed and endurance of a horse is so amazing for a creature so large. This has enabled horses to carry people and goods in many parts of the world. Horses also have other advantages. Considering that they eat only grass, they can go almost anywhere humans can, provided they is grass in that part of the world to eat. In sharp contrast to camels and cows that must rest to digest food, a horse has a unique digestive system that allows it to walk all day and graze at the same time. Horses changed history by carrying people, their goods and ideas between civilizations.

Sport. A well-trained horse is a very good athlete. No matter the breed, most horses can trot for many hours without taking a break. For example, a fit horse can spring a quarter mile in just 21 seconds. Besides that, a talented horse can jump a fence measuring more than seven feet tall. However, people and horses must learn to cooperate in order to succeed in any sport.

Equine Therapy in St. George and Around the World

Equine therapy refers to the use of horses as a means of therapy to promote emotional growth. This type of therapy is often applied to people suffering from autism, anxiety, dementia, depression, delay in mental development, trauma, brain injury, and down syndrome and other genetic syndromes among other illnesses. More often than not, riders with various disabilities have registered remarkable equestrian skills in competitions, both on national and international levels. This explains why equestrian has been used and recognized in the medical field in many countries across the globe.

Equine therapy in St. George has also been used as an effective technique in teaching troubled youth on how to learn, follow instructions and react. For example, in a beginners’ horse therapy, participants are often asked to get the horse move out of its enclosure without touching it. While some students will yell, clap or even whistle, the horse can’t heed the signal. This is the same way that parents and children can learn that forcing, clapping or yelling is not the best way to communicate or encourage cooperation.

But why horses for therapy? Even though dogs, cats, dolphins and even elephants are used in therapy, horses are the commonly used animals. This is because horses are capable of responding immediately and give feedback to the actions or behavior of the rider. Besides that, horses can also mirror the actions of the rider. The basis for this therapy is that because horses behave in a similar way humans do in their responsive and social behavior, it is often very easy for patients to establish a connection with them.

Lion’s Gate Recovery offers equine therapy in St. George because the therapy has many outstanding benefits. People with behavioral, psychomotor, and cognitive disabilities have shown very positive results through working with a certified equine therapist. Just like other therapies including occupational and speech-language therapy, disabled people are helped and assisted by a professional and certified therapist so they adapt to the challenges of their disability. However, equine therapy does this in such a way that the students do not feel that they are under any form of therapy.

Some of the benefits of equine therapy include:

  • – It builds confidence and self-worth
  • – Improves communication
  • – Builds trust
  • – Enhances self-acceptance
  • – It is a source of spiritual connection
  • – Develops social skills.

Equine Therapy Activities

What are some of the activities that people do when participating in an equine therapy program? Well, these activities are not limited to just horseback riding alone. This is because some people may feel intimidated by the size and features of a horse and it may take them some time to develop trust when around a horse. For this reason, included in the therapy program are horse grooming, horse care, and saddling. The process and techniques to be applied in these sessions largely depend on the type of disorder and how severe it is. Here a few traditional therapy techniques that are adapted around spending time with the horses:

  • – Practicing activities
  • – Cognitive therapy
  • – Talk and storytelling therapy
  • – Activity scheduling
  • – Play therapy.

In all these activities, safety is a primary concern. Equine therapy in St. George is done in such a way that all participants must wear helmets and other protective gear to ensure they are safe in case they fall from a horse during a therapy session. Besides the aforementioned, students also learn how to lead a horse. In most cases, they begin by pulling a lead rope while standing in front of the horse. Over time, they learn that the best way to lead a horse is not by standing in front or behind it, but by its side.