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The Importance of Comparative Psychology in Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies

By Emily Kieson

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Practitioners of Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) use it to help individuals suffering from a wide range of physical and psychological disorders as an alternative practice in physical and psychotherapy.  Although there is plenty of research to support the benefits of these therapies, there is little research in equine behavior in this context, specifically how equine behaviors can best be utilized to improve the health of the human component.  Although much of EAAT uses horses in physical therapy, newer practices in EAAT focus on assisting individuals in building and improving interpersonal skills through practicing those skills with horses.  To fully understand and develop this area of EAAT, researchers need to look at the behavioral patterns of horses, how they learn and adapt to changes in human emotions and behaviors, and how these behaviors correspond to bonding with regards to friendships and relationships within the context of equine-human interactions.  To do this, scientists need to rely upon the principles of learning theory and behavioral sciences associated with comparative psychology.  The scientific methods used in comparative psychology are critical for researching these areas of EAAT.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2018
Publication Title International Journal of Comparative Psychology
Volume 31
Pages 11
ISBN/ISSN 0889-3667
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Equine-assisted activities
  4. Horses
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  1. open access