Is Equine Therapy the same as Equine Assisted Therapy?

Is Equine Therapy the same as equine assisted therapy?

This blog is aimed at people purchasing Equine Assisted Therapy services, NDIS Support Coordinators, those advertising their services, and media: there is much confusion about what Equine Assisted Therapy or the wider communities use of the term Equine Therapy is. It is hoped that this blog will start to clear up what it actually is.

Hallbert(2018) states, “inconsistent use of terminology and an over-abundance of terms has caused challenges in both practice and research for those interested in, or studying equine assisted activities and therapies.


Equine-Assisted Activities refers to the non-therapy services that include horses and focus on teaching skills and enhancing quality of life.


Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) is a type of equine assisted activity that broadly refers to non-therapy, skills based services that focus on teaching life skills, social skills, communication skills, relationship skills, or leadership skills while facilitating personal growth and increased self-awareness through both mounted and non-mounted interactions with horses.


Equine-Assisted Therapy broadly refers to any type of therapy or treatment that includes equine interactions, activities, or treatment strategies, and the equine milieeu. Services are regulated by health laws and provided by appropriately educated, trained and credentialed health care professionals.


Equine-Assisted Mental Health is used to describe anytype of mental health service (psychology, counselling, psychotherapy, social work etc) that includes horse or the farm milieu, Mental health services are provided by professionals who have graduated from an accredited education program and are allowed by law to include mental health treatment as part of their scope of practice.


Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is commonly used synonymously with equine-assisted mental health.” 

(Hallberg, 2018, pp. 4-8)


Equine Therapy refers to therapy that is provided TO horses. These are a variety of therapeutic services that are available to keep horses in good health and wellbeing, NOT TO people.

Let me be clear, I am in NO WAY saying that Equine Assisted Learning, Equine Assisted Mentoring, Equine Assisted Coaching or Equine Assisted Leadership services are lesser than or less legitimate. Rather, I am trying to make it clear that if you are accessing an Equine Assisted Therapy service for a mental health issue or assistance with social / emotional resilience strategies compounded by an underlying mental health issue, ensure that you seek appropriately qualified mental health professionals.


Appropriately qualified mental health professionals are required to be registered with their peak professional body and adhere to strict codes of ethics, ongoing professional development, clinical supervision and insurance requirements.


In my case, my qualifications, certifications and professional associations are clearly listed on my website; with the highest relevant degrees / trainings being a Masters in Counselling Practice, and a certification as an Equine Assisted Psychotherapist (Equine Psychotherapy Institute model).

So what can you do?

If you are accessing the service for a person or yourself, ask what the Equine-Assisted Therapist's qualifications are.