Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) encompasses a range of treatments that includes activities with horses and other equines to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in persons with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, autism, cerebral palsy, dementia, depression, developmental delay, genetic syndromes (such as Down's syndrome), traumatic brain injuries, behavioral issues, abuse issues, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug and alcohol addiction, and other mental health problems. Such therapy is not designed to replace more commonly used therapies.
Equine-assisted therapy is not the same as adaptive sports activities involving horsemanship. Riders with disabilities have demonstrated accomplishments in national and international para-equestrian competitions.
Hippotherapy usually involves an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, or a speech and language therapist working with a client and a horse. Different movements of the horse present challenges to the rider to promote different postural responses of the rider. In essence, the horse influences the rider rather than the rider controlling the horse. The word "Hippotherapy" is also used in some contexts to refer to a broader realm of equine therapies.
Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) does not necessarily involve riding, but may include grooming, feeding and ground exercises. Mental health professionals work with one or more clients and one or more horses in an experiential manner to help the clients learn about themselves and others, while processing or discussing the client's feelings, behaviours, and patterns.The goal is to help the client in social, emotional, cognitive, or behavioral ways. Other terms for equine psychotherapy include Equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP), equine-assisted therapy (EAT),Equine Facilitated Wellness(EFW), Equine Facilitated Counselling(EFC) and Equine Facilitated Mental Health (EFMH).
Equine-Assisted Activities (EAA) incorporates all of the above activities plus horse grooming, and stable management.