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Treating Veterans with Equine-Assisted Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) has hit the Canadian mainstream in a big way over the past five years. EAT is delivered through several different methods, targeting various clientele, but, at its crux, horses are used in mounted or unmounted exercises outside of a clinical setting to guide clients through a psychological journey of healing and self-understanding. Canadian Armed Forces veterans, in particular, have said they find comfort, community and recovery through horses. Many veterans not only profoundly relate to the hierarchal nature of the horse’s social structure, which is analogous to that of the military’s chain of command, they are also often able to overcome fear and develop confidence working with horses. The horse’s movements and behaviours serve as metaphors to help the veterans change patterns of thinking related to deep-seated “invisible wounds” of war that can manifest through mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, substance abuse…

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