Breaking Barriers: Equine Therapy's Impact on Teens

Teens often resist therapy. Equine Therapy breaks down barriers youth put up. This form of therapy is unique because horses' behavior can inspire unique insights.

- Equine Therapy

Equine Therapy at Oxbow Academy

Teens often resist therapy. Equine Therapy breaks down barriers youth put up. This form of therapy is unique because horses' behavior can inspire unique insights.

Equine Therapy is not learning to ride or how to handle a horse. It consists of a variety of activities performed while the student is near the horse and astride it.

Horses are social animals. The horses’ responses add a new dimension to experiential therapy. As prey animals, horses pay close attention to the behavior of others.

Horses respond well to compassionate, assertive behavior. Seeing the way a horse responds to him will help your son understand his own behavior and relationships.


A clinician and horse professional will help your son work with a horse. They will help your son to process his experiences as they happen.

During Equine Therapy, your son will experience emotional stress, challenges, and successes. He will receive coaching from therapists and horse professionals.

Your son will gain a deeper understanding of how his feelings relate to his behavior. With a greater understanding, his behavior can improve. This will greatly supplement the talk therapy he does with his therapist as well, and give him greater insight into himself.

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    Equine Imprinting

    Each year at Oxbow Academy, at least one foal is born. Your son may have the opportunity to play an important role in the life of a baby horse.

    Within the foal's first day of life, he or she is introduced to humans. People rub and stroke the baby horse's ears, nose, legs, and belly. The gentle touches teach the foal not to be afraid of humans. This is called imprinting

    The gentle handling prepares the foal to work with humans when it grows up. It also helps socialize it. It provides a great opportunity for Oxbow Academy students too.

    Some students help with imprinting. They see the importance of early interaction and family. They also see the effects of positive versus negative touch. Most often, students gain an intuitive understanding of the importance of trust, attachment, and relationships.

    Equine Therapy Imprinting

    Paint the Pony

    If your son is at Oxbow Academy during the autumn, he will have the chance to take part in a life-changing activity. The activity is called Paint the Pony. Paint the Pony provides your son the chance to heal by telling his story in a unique way.

    This activity was inspired by Native American warriors. Warriors would often decorate their horses with colorful symbols before important hunts.

    The Paint the Pony activity builds on this inspiration. Your son will use a live horse, poster paints, and symbols to tell his story.

    He will create his own symbols for important events in his life. He will also create symbols that represent his hopes for the future.

    A horse that your son has come to know and trust through his equine activities will become a living canvas. Using the live horse, your son will reflect on his past. He will also imagine a brighter future.

    For most students, expressing their experiences and goals visually is a transformative experience. It is an experience that will provide your son with new insights into his past and future.

    paint your pony oxbow academy

    Horsemanship Program

    All students who come to Oxbow Academy take part in the Equine Program. The Horsemanship Program is something different. Participation in the Horsemanship Program is a privilege that your son may earn.

    For your son to earn the privilege of participating, he must make progress in treatment. This includes all aspects of treatment, such as therapy, academics, and residential treatment.

    The Equine Program and Horsemanship Program are different. For example, the equine program takes place with a therapist and the equine director. The Horsemanship Program teaches students the basics of Western riding skills with the equine directors.

    Students learn how to halter, tie, lunge, and saddle their horse. They learn how to build a bond of trust and respect between themselves and their horses.

    riding equine therapy at oxbow academy

    Once they have mastered basic skills, they must complete an arena obstacle course. Students who show skill in this test earn their boots. Demonstrating this level of skills means that students are able to go on trail rides. They can schedule a trail ride with their therapist as well. They also may have the opportunity to compete in local horse events.

    Earning participation in the Horsemanship Program is a great accomplishment. Having the confidence to ride a horse is an accomplishment in itself. Also, riding in Utah's spectacular backcountry is a therapeutic experience.

    Students often return from a trail ride with renewed motivation. They find a new determination to meet their therapeutic goals. They realize what may have once seemed unattainable is well within their grasp.

    The Horsemanship Program is one of many ways that your son may transform his life.

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    Knowing When to Seek Help

    Many parents find it difficult to tell healthy curiosity about sex from a potentially dangerous situation. There are clinical evaluations that can help make that determination easier. One of these evaluations is the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST).

    On the SAST, you will answer a series of simple yes or no questions about their teen. The answers are completely confidential. No information connects you to your assessment. After you complete the SAST, you will be taken to a new page that shows a score representing the level of risk.

    After you get your score, you will have the chance to request a call from someone who can help answer your questions. You will only be contacted if you make a request. Whether you request a call or not, your information will remain confidential, and you will be under no obligation.