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Equine Therapy and the Deaf


Annakah Michael

                        How Equines Provide a Sanctuary for the Deaf in a Hearing World

         Equine therapy, or as many call it, horse therapy, has brought many people through rough times, helped the blind to trust, and the hurt to heal. While horse therapy is for these things, it is also known for helping the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. But how do horses ‘help' the Deaf?  In reality, people who are deaf have a unique cultural identity, but many are not able to have access to their culture. Therefore, might not be confident in himself and might have the pressure of receiving implants from the hearing community. Many people have heard of dogs aiding the deaf, but not so many have heard about, or even think of horses in a similar way.  While horse therapy may not be for everyone who are deaf or Deaf, it may be very helpful to some.

They say the sound of galloping hooves will lead you home, but it is not just the sound, but the vibrations, and the feeling of flight on the back of the horse that can bring a person to heaven. Research indicates that Equine Therapy is most commonly connected to children and adults that have Autism, Down Syndrome, Anxiety, Depression, and to other similar diagnosis (equestrian therapy). Although horse therapy is most commonly used for the above, the deaf can also benefit from equestrian therapy. For example, for those who become deaf later in life, or who struggle with their identity in a hearing world. Equine therapy helps build a sense of self-worth, improve communication to both deaf and hearing, builds trust and self-efficiency. Also helps develop social skills, decreases isolation, helps learn impulse control and emotional management, sets perspective and helps a person learn their limits and boundaries. (equestrian therapy)
        Horse Therapy helps to bring all who struggle with being ‘different' to an understanding that being ‘normal' is not necessary to accomplish incredible things in ones life. However, some Deaf living confidently and independently in their culture may not need the benefits that equine therapy brings.

When the deaf want to communicate, they use actions. This is very similar to the horse, when the rider wants the horse to move, turn, or stop, their seat position and hands to do the talking. Horses can often sense danger before it happens, and can alert their riders by their body language. Their ears, or the tension that runs through their body, can tell the rider that something is wrong. A sensitive rider can see and feel what the horse is telling them, and they are given the advanced warning that allows them to equip themselves for whatever is coming.
       "One remarkable program that is yielding phenomenal results is therapeutic horseback riding. Research shows this form of therapy works wonders with almost every social work population: children, teens, juvenile delinquents, physically challenged, developmentally delayed, blind, deaf, and all forms of abuse."(Marion) Several successful foster homes, include having horses and/or other farm and house animals. "Over 400,000 American children are in foster care" (Steve). Several of those kids are deaf, and for the deaf in this environment it can be difficult because their foster parents must know their Sign Language, whether if they are deaf or hearing. Many of these kids, if not all of them, have had or will have rough lives in past and possible future homes. " Equine therapy is able to help foster parents better understand their foster child all while helping them develop themselves into more suitable foster parents."(David) Horses and other animals help deaf kids who are not able to get out of their hiding place, to get out and feel at home.
        Horse therapy has brought many people through rough times, help the blind to trust, the hurt to see the good in this world. While horse therapy is for these things it is also known for helping the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. How do horses ‘help' the Deaf, when in reality being Deaf is a culture and not a disability? Many people have heard dogs being a hearing assistance, but not so many hear of or think of horses. Although, horse therapy may not be needed or wanted for all Deaf or even deaf, but it might be helpful to others.





Works Cited:

David. "Equine Therapy for the Foster Parent." Herd By A Horse. N.p., 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 21                                                                                                                                         

Apr. 2017. <>


Steve, FC. "Statistics on Foster Care." FosterClub. FosterClub, Inc., 29 Oct. 2008. Web. 21 Apr. 2017. <>


Swindell, Marian. "Equine Therapy and Social Work: A Winning Combination." N.p., 16 Nov. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.<>


"What Is Equestrian Therapy?" Equestrian Therapy. © 2017 • GeneratePress, 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017. < >





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