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Turn your passion for large animals and therapeutic services into a career in animal-assisted therapy. Equine therapy specifically utilizes horses, donkeys and other equines as therapeutic tools for people with physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities. Start your career with professional training, schooling and an internship program.
Choosing a Career
Decide what type of work you want to do within the field of equine therapy. Those who specialize in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Facilitated Therapy work with horses to facilitate communication and interaction with unmounted therapy clients. Horsemanship and riding skills are not the focus. A career in Therapeutic Riding focuses on challenging the clients to learn how to maneuver their horses, hone horsemanship skills and utilize the horse for personal physical improvement through the gait of the horse. Hippotherapy is an equine therapy that solely focuses on the movement of the horse, much like a tool, for therapeutic services.
Higher Education Options
Once a career path has been chosen, studying at a collegiate level is recommended. Consider majoring in occupational therapy, physical therapy, biology, psychiatry or psychology. A minor in animal sciences or second major in veterinary science is helpful if you plan to be one of the main care providers for equines at a therapy facility.
Before applying for a position in the equine therapy field, get certified. There are several organizations that offer training and courses geared at specialized types of therapies. The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International offers several levels of animal-assisted therapy certifications for instructors who teach therapeutic riding. The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association focuses on certifying EAP and EFT professionals.
Working in Equine Therapy
Like many professions, equine therapy specialists hone their skills through internships. Explore opportunities at therapeutic riding centers, occupational therapy offices and with hospitals that promote non-clinical therapies for people healing from injuries, coping with chronic diseases or undergoing psychological treatments. After completing an internship, apply for work in your new career field. Highlight your education, certifications and previous experience on job applications and your resume.