For over 40 years horses have been recognized and extensively used in Europe for their therapeutic value in helping children to improve their cognitive, physical, emotional, social, and behavioral skills. Equine therapy is a combination of many horse related activities created to help children with special needs to improve balance, mobility, muscle tone, coordination and posture. The horse's multi dimensional movement stimulates the muscles in the rider's body close to normal human walking which benefits patients suffering from physical disabilities, and influences the systems responsible for speech production. It impacts the muscles of the oral cavity, the vocal folds, the laryngeal muscles and the muscles involved in breathing. This results in better respiratory function, increased vocal intensity, improved voice quality and more precise articulation of speech sounds.
Horses are responsive animals with awareness and sensitivity to their surroundings and to people. They are large and powerful and create an environment to overcome fear. Horses are considered a valuable partner in physical and emotional healing to develop confidence. The way a child accomplishes a task involving a horse can provide it with the tools to manage "real life". A relationship to a horse will build up self-esteem and self-confidence and give hope, love and acceptance.