According to www.ocalamarion.com, Marion County is the horse capital of the world. When most people think of therapy, they think of sitting on a couch and talking with a counselor. Did you know that horses make great therapists? Now, we don’t mean they’re going to start talking like our old friend Mr. Ed… Equestrian therapy, also known as equine therapy or hippotherapy, helps both as a form of physical therapy as well as psychotherapy.
Horse In Miracles helps veterans reintegrate into society. “This outdoor, physical experience with horses helps Veterans develop an awareness of how they are presenting themselves. Veterans are free to express their feelings physically and emotionally with horses they may not be able to do in therapy. The Ranch gives them a safe environment to practice modifying, improving and relearning communication and relation skills.”
Marion Therapeutic Riding Association in Ocala and Stirrups N Strides in Citra both provide “the benefits of therapeutic riding to individuals with physical, emotional, or mental challenges.” Both agencies offer a sliding scale or scholarships and both require a physician’s release in order to receive services.
The Refuge in Ocklawaha is an inpatient substance abuse treatment facility and they offer equestrian therapy as a part of their program in addition to “a vast number of outdoor activities including exercising on a bicycle, walking the meditation trail, recharging your batteries on the labyrinth, or building self-esteem and trust on the high-ropes course”.
All of these agencies(except The Refuge) use volunteers, so if you want to get involved, call 2-1-1 to learn more!