Therapeutic Riding Can Help Combat Veterans with PTSD

Study finds that therapeutic riding significantly decreases PTSD symptoms in veterans.
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woman riding horse being led members of military

About eight out of every 100 military veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. With more than 18.2 million U.S. veterans in 2018, that means that more than 1.4 million U.S. current or former military personnel are affected by PTSD.

A study funded by the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) has proven that horses can help.

Beth A. Lanning, PhD, MCHES, of Baylor University, in 2017 published a peer-reviewed study supported by the Horses and Humans Research Foundation. That study had 51 veterans and active duty service members participate in an eight-week therapeutic riding program.

The study findings revealed clinically significant decreases in PTSD symptoms, improved social functioning, vitality, less interference from emotions in daily activities, and increased participation in daily life. The study also reported improved confidence, trust, acceptance of self and others, and gratitude.

Overall, the findings of this study support the beneficial effects of therapeutic horseback riding for veterans with PTSD. The participants also cited the importance of the barn environment and the unique relationship with the horse as key components that contributed to their improved quality of life and functioning.

Learn more about Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) and how to support ongoing research by visiting HorsesandHumans.org. The mission of HHRF is to provide scientific research that explores the claimed—but as-yet scientifically unsubstantiated—benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapies.

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