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Horses do help people heal

Horses helping people Since 2014, Darlene Chalmers, assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work and her colleague Colleen Dell from the Department of Sociology and School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan, have been looking at the effectiveness of horse therapy on individuals. Chalmers said the pair had already studied therapy dog programs and interventions at a number of sites in Saskatoon.
 
“What we were finding consistently coming out of that was that across all the programs, the concept of love and support was coming up,” she said. “All the participants talked about being happy in their time spent with the dogs, so we wondered if this would be something that might come up as well in programs where horses are part of the interactions.”
 
After three years of research, they released their findings, which show people who participated in mental health and addictions treatment programs involving interactions with horses reported therapeutic benefits in their healing.
 
“What we did is we worked with four very different horse programs here in Saskatchewan,” said Chalmers. “We spent a lot of time with them working on their goals just to make sure they could be evaluated, because this is an evaluation (study). Then we proceeded with the evaluation of the programs.”