Accepted Paper:

Horses as healers: shifting paradigms in equine assisted therapies  


Arieahn Matamonasa-Bennett (DePaul University)

Paper short abstract:

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is a rapidly growing field around the world. However, utilizing horses as ‘partners’ in the therapeutic process requires major paradigm shifts regarding animal intelligence and emotion and open discourse on the ethical implications for care and agency.

Paper long abstract:

The notion of using horses in physical therapy and for those suffering from chronic illnesses can be traced back to ancient Greece where ancient texts speak of the life-affirming relationship between humans and equines. Many cultures, including the American Indian plains cultures like the Lakota, incorporated the horse into spiritual and social life in ways that continue today. Over the last decade, Animal-Assisted Therapies including Equine Assisted Psychotherapy have gained attention and momentum with the formation of a number of associations for teaching and training people to do this work. Currently, this is a field of pioneer practitioners and what is needed are theoretical models for research, as well as, a serious ongoing dialogue or discourse about the ways in which contemporary paradigms about animal emotion and intelligence are challenged when we begin to view them as partners in the therapeutic process.

Panel P14
Understanding humans understanding horses: constructed and co-created cultures