Equine Therapy has Been a Win-Win for Decades

Most often, equine therapy is talked about and marketed for its potential to heal people. Whether it’s veterans, troubled teens, people with disabilities, or specific medical conditions, or others who get health benefits from caring for and being around horses, it’s not hard to understand why the focus is on the human good that comes from equine therapy. But it’s also been a big resource for the equine industry as a whole.


At the end of the 1950s, the horse population had dropped to a little over 4 million horses from 20 million during 1915. It was during the 1960s that the equine industry started to grow. Many sources will attribute this resurgence simply to renewed “recreational” interest in equestrianism. It was like it took two full generations of Americans to forget that part of the reason they fell in love with their car was that they didn’t have to deal with horses anymore. In other words, people had to forget about owning and riding a horse as a necessity, before they could appreciate that they actually wanted a horse, or at least enjoyed being around them.


Yet, at the same time, what really catalyzed this change was the realization and implementation of equine therapy for a range of medical issues. It didn’t start with mental health, either. Originally, riding therapy popularized the use of horses to aid in human healing. People with polio, scoliosis, and other physical and orthopedic conditions gained mobility and rehabilitated their muscles with horse riding. Soon enough, other kinds of equine therapy emerged including equine care and mental health treatment.


Best of all, with the proliferation of different types of equine therapy, more horses in different types of physical condition can make a positive contribution. With the average cost of horse euthanasia at $250, there’s not necessarily big cost savings in equine therapy and injured horses. But that doesn’t account for the benefit they can have in supporting roles.


Moreover, with more potential uses for horses throughout their lives, there’s less risk in owning a horse. If your trip to the local vet clinic yields bad news, ask around. There may yet be a place for your horse that can, if nothing else, remove the cost of caring for a horse that you can no longer use. Simply put, the ability to support a large horse population with a robust equine industry is good for both species.



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