STEPS is proud to provide equine assisted services to our North Texas community! All of our services including therapeutic horsemanship, equine assisted counseling and psychotherapy, and equine assisted learning involve our herd! All eleven of our equines are essential to our STEPS team and the therapeutic process. Our herd members include miniature horses, Quarter Horses, a Paint Horse, a miniature donkey, an Arabian horse, a Palomino, a Draft Mix, and a Mustang! Read more to find out more about our amazing therapy herd!
What do therapy equines do during counseling sessions?
During each session, counselor, client, equine specialist, and equines are present. Each bring their own unique element to the therapeutic process.
Our therapeutic approach - Relational Equine Partnered Counseling (REPC) - allows our herd to be respond naturally and organically during each session. This is important because equine have the ability to recognize human emotion by noticing cues such as heart rate, facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. The equines then respond to us based on what they have noticed about us. REPC allows them to decide how to participate in sessions and interact with clients. Meaning, our herd members have the freedom to move about the pasture and express themselves genuinely and authentically without human control. This allows both equine and human to form a mutally-beneficial relationship that each choose to be a part of. Many of our clients establish particularly close relationships with specific equines, which promotes long term collaboration and communication.
What does it take to be a therapy equine?
All of our herd members are rescued equines or retired show horses. Any breed of horse or donkey can make a great therapy partner! We work with mares and geldings (no stallions!) of many different breeds in the STEPS program. Becoming a therapy equine can be a great second or even third career for a former show horse. All of the STEPS herd members come from a unique background and have a story of their own! They all have special gifts in working with our clients from playing with children, to giving feedback, and teaching clients how to ride. Meet our herd members here! Some may have experienced trauma or neglect which allows clients who may have also experience trauma to feel seen and understood. Like humans, equines experience emotions such as anger, joy, sadness, and fear. This makes them excellent partners in counseling and allows a genuine connection to form with client and equine.
How do equines benefit?
Equines are herd animals, meaning their survival is dependent on the proximity of other equines. They rely on one another for safety and social and emotional connection, much like humans! The bonds they build with one another are just as important as the bonds they build with their human herd. Through relationship building with humans, our equine partners can also build trust, social awareness, empathy, and communication skills. The human-equine connection can be beneficial for both equine and person.
You can make a difference in the lives of our special therapy herd members! Join your favorite equine's Carrot Club today!