Horses Ride to Rescue of Some Psychiatric Patients
Equine-assisted therapy--using horses as a therapeutic intervention--reduced violent behavior in a group of hospitalized psychiatric patients, according to research reported at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in May in Honolulu. The patients participated in weekly group therapy sessions for three months that involved them in horse-related tasks such as grooming or placing a saddle on the horse. The 104 study participants were at risk for violent behavior or were highly regressed and had a mean age of 44.8, reported researchers from Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The subjects assigned to equine-assisted therapy were compared with subjects who receive canine-assisted therapy and those who received psychosocial therapy. Only the patients in the equine-assisted therapy group showed a decline in violence-related incidents at the three-month follow-up. Patients with affective disorders showed greater reduction in violent incidents than did those with schizophrenia.