There’s no doubt that the relationship between humans and horses is a powerful one, and many troubled teens are benefiting from equine therapy, a treatment program that blends caring for horses with therapy.
While traditional therapy can definitely help teens who struggle with a range of issues, there’s something special about equine therapy that can reach teens that may be the most resistant to professional help. There are several unique life lessons taught through equine therapy that troubled teens can benefit from.
Life Lesson #1: Develop Healthy Relationships
Horses are big and powerful, but can develop relationships with people they like and trust. However, a human has to earn that trust through care, companionship and communication. Teens who struggle with building and sustaining healthy relationships can work with horses and put into practice what they may not be willing to do with parents, teachers, and counselors.
Teens must overcome fear and low self-esteem to bond with horses, and modify their behavior to earn their trust. Then, the teens can take what they learned and apply the skills to other relationships in their lives.
Life Lesson #2: Work Hard
Horses require a lot of care and hard work, and when a teen is paired with a horse in therapy, that care becomes their responsibility. Troubled teens who are struggling to overcome challenges in their lives have usually given up working for anything, whether it is in schools, or to sustain relationships.
Caring for creatures who are dependent on them teaches teens more about doing a hard day’s work for an immediate result. It also teaches them that hard work has its own rewards, as the horses bond further with the teens.
Life Lesson #3: Be The Change
It is often said that horses are like a mirror for their riders and owners, and this is especially true when troubled teens are paired with horses in equine therapy. when a teenager is stubborn and moody, so is the horse, the teens must learn to change their behavior to get the horse to be compliant and friendly.
As the teens learn that their own attitude and behavior has an impact on their horse and others around them, they quickly learn to be the change they want to see in their horse. Eventually, troubled teens can apply this concept to their human relationships.
Horses used for equine therapy have an incredible ability to get troubled teens to take those first steps toward change, look inside themselves and develop the skills necessary to become healthy and well again. The life lessons that teens learn in equine therapy don’t stop there–responsibility, confidence, assertiveness, boundaries, and self-awareness will stay with the teen throughout their entire lives. It’s no wonder that equine therapy is growing in popularity when it comes to helping troubled teens begin their treatments.