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Equine Therapy And The NDIS: What You Need To Know

Equine Therapy And The NDIS: What You Need To Know

Tiare L.
12 Jul 2023 •
4 min read
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Humans have an unquestionable bond with animals. Ask anyone who has a pet or has spent time with animals—the consensus would be that spending time with animals is good for our happiness and wellbeing.

But have you ever considered spending time with an animal as a form of clinical therapy?

Animal-assisted interventions are not only a way to boost our happiness, they are also a valuable way to improve mental and physical health.

Equine Therapy in particular is increasing in popularity as a way for people living with a disability to improve their wellbeing.

Let’s take a closer look at Equine Therapy, its benefits and how you may be able to access funding for Equine Therapy using your NDIS Plan.

What Is Equine Therapy?

Equine Therapy includes a range of treatments that incorporate activities with horses and other equines to promote physical and mental health.

Participants engage in activities including riding, leading, feeding and grooming the horse while supervised by a health professional like a psychologist or occupational therapist.

In some cases, the therapy is delivered via the animal, like horse riding, whereas in other cases the animal is used as a way to enrich other activities or rehabilitation programs.

So Why Horses, You Ask?

Studies have found that horses act similarly to humans in the way they respond to social situations.

Horses can help people self-regulate their nervous system and emotions. If someone starts a session agitated or stressed, the horse will move away from them. On the other hand, if the Participant approaches the horse in a calm and relaxed way, the horse mirrors these emotions, allowing them to connect with the horse and the activity.

With time, Participants are quickly inspired into calm, as their eagerness to engage with the horse increases. 

How Can Equine Therapy Help Someone Living With A Disability?

It’s all well and good to say Equine Therapy can help those living with a disability. But the natural question is—in what ways?

Here are just some of the ways adding Equine Therapy to an NDIS plan might help:

  • Improve mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing.
  • Boost self-esteem, self-confidence, self-awareness and reduce anxiety.
  • Improve muscle tone, coordination, sensory integration, motor planning and mobility.
  • Explore how non-verbal communication can impact interactions with others.
  • Assist in ability to concentrate.
  • Create a way to approach healing without having to discuss and relive trauma directly.
  • Encourage relationship development, respect and understanding for living beings.

Equine Therapy And Autism

Equine Therapy can be particularly beneficial for people on the autism spectrum. The aim is to create an environment for human-animal interaction that feels relaxed and non-judgemental. This allows Participants to nurture their social abilities and well-being.

Take Daisy for example. She’s an NDIS Participant who uses Equine Therapy to support her autism spectrum disorder.

After adding Equine Therapy to her NDIS plan, Daisy saw improvements in her overall motor functions and had reduced anxiety. She now has a goal to work with horses and compete in equestrian events with the Australian Special Olympic Team.

Is Equine Therapy Covered By The NDIS?

Equine Therapy can be covered by the NDIS if you can prove the treatment is related to your disability and that it’s likely to be of benefit to you.

Like everything in the NDIS, it is checked against the 7 points of what defines ‘reasonable and necessary’. 

How Do I Get Equine Therapy On My NDIS Plan?

To successfully add Equine Therapy to your NDIS Plan, your request needs to connect to your NDIS goals. You will need to outline how Equine Therapy would benefit you (or an NDIS Participant) to achieve these goals.

For example, if one of your goals is to improve physical strength and coordination, you can explain how the process of riding a horse will increase your fitness, strength and balance. It may be helpful to have a letter of support from a physiotherapist or occupational therapist outlining their recommendations.

By setting clear goals and your plan to achieve them, you can head into your NDIS plan meeting or NDIS Plan review confident that you will receive the funding you need.

How Can I Find The Right Therapist For Me?

Depending on where you live, you may be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding an equine therapist. 

Before signing up to whoever is available, check their qualifications and experience working with people with a disability. 

It might also be worth meeting in person to check the setting and personalities are a good match for you or your loved one.  

How can we help?

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