A systematic review of the efficacy of equine-assisted interventions on psychological outcomes
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Much research attests to the beneficial effects of equine interventions on physical development and ability. However, less is known about the possible psychological benefits of horse activities, such as therapeutic riding or interactions with horses. Although there is public consensus that horses can have psychological benefits, it is an under-researched area and conclusions are largely based on anecdotal data. The little empirical evidence that is available about the efficacy of equine-assisted interventions on psychological outcomes tends to be mixed and is often difficult to interpret due to the lack of rigorous research designs. The purpose of this review was to examine the current state of the literature regarding the psychological effects of equine-assisted interventions, and to make recommendations for future research. Findings from this review suggest that equine-assisted interventions hold much promise, particularly in terms of child/adolescent social and behavioural issues, and perhaps adult affective disorders. However, the current state of the literature does not allow us to definitively conclude that equine-assisted interventions are efficacious. Well-designed randomised controlled trials are greatly needed in this area, as it is an appreciation of the need to standardise and document equine-assisted interventions and outcomes in future research.
European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling
Health and Community Services
Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology