It shouldn’t come as a surprise that horses have played a valuable role in medicine. After all, the first American ambulances were driven by horses. Eventually, horses would be replaced with motorized transport. However, their place in American medicine has remained.
Equestrian therapy made its U.S. debut in the 1960s, despite the practice having been first documented around 600 B.C in ancient Lydia. Equestrian therapy assists individuals with disabilities who may struggle with traditional verbal or physical therapy. This experience-based therapy has helped patients gain confidence, conquer emotions, and practice empathetic relationships.
Today there are hundreds of equine-assisted therapy practices all over the world, many of which are nonprofits. If you recognize the benefits of equine-assisted therapy, consider contributing to one or more of these six charities.
The Equinox Trust
This South African nonprofit organization works with horses to fulfill a variety of therapeutic needs. Traditional one-on-one therapy sessions are funded by generous donors such as Christopher Roy Garland. The organization specializes in using horses to help women overcome past trauma and give caregivers and mental health professionals a safe space to express their emotions and receive much-needed psychosocial support.
The nonprofit also offers assistance with workplace wellness in addition to other types of group therapy and skills development. These other avenues of therapy and skills development, on the other hand, are paid for by the group participating. Co-workers can explore different team dynamics outside of their usual workplace through the assistance of the horses. Since access to mental healthcare can vary from country to country, support of overseas therapy charities is critical for their patients.
Just outside of Detroit, Camp Casey uses horses to connect with children who have life-threatening diseases. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity has recently had to reconfigure how to safely assist patients given their immune sensitivity. It is through the generous work of donors and volunteers that this nonprofit can remain functional in such trying times.
Whether they work on the racecourse or as healers, horses are often subjected to demanding jobs. The EQUUS Foundation promotes creating bonds between rider and mount while emphasizing the humane treatment of horses. In addition to providing support for equine therapy charities, the group has worked to rehome and rehabilitate at-risk horses. By setting high standards for care, EQUUS pushes other nonprofits to look out for their horse healers in addition to their patients.
REINS has been using horses to help adults and children of Southern California navigate their disabilities since 1984. In 2009 the nonprofit had completely paid off its property mortgage and has been able to concentrate all its funds on expanding and improving the efforts of its mission. REINS reports the most common disabilities in their patients are autism and cerebral palsy. However, the organization has experience with a plethora of different disabilities.
The National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy, or NEFT, is an EQUUS-certified and highly respected nonprofit equine-assisted therapy group.
The Northern California foundation recently celebrated 50 years of helping individuals navigate their disabilities through building relationships with horses. They accept a variety of contributions, from standard monetary donations to horses and horse supplies. The group is very transparent with how donations are used, listing the exact prices of the services they provide on the NCEFT website.
While the charity serves a variety of patients, Ride On specializes in using horses to strengthen an individual’s athleticism. PATH-certified instructors adapt traditional riding methods so that adults and children with disabilities can learn horsemanship skills. These lessons aren’t free, but there are funding opportunities for those with financial needs.
When you have a limited amount of time or capital that you can donate to charity, it can be difficult to choose between helping people or animals. Fortunately, with equine-assisted therapy charities, you won’t have to. In addition to providing therapy for individuals with disabilities, horses are given working lives without the demands of the racecourse. If you have a passion for horses and helping people, consider contributing to one of the charities above.
Christopher Roy Garland