Why Equine-Assisted Therapy Works

Our acclaimed Equine-Assisted Therapy Program connects patients with horses to help them better understand themselves and how they interact with and perceive the world around them.

Led by the widely-respeceted Dale Phillips, our innovative program has created life changing experiences for countless individuals on their journey to lasting recovery. Patients and their families are able to benefit greatly from this form of experiential therapy because horses have a natural ability to respond to and reflect the emotional state of the people they are working with. Through the non-judgmental relationship they develop with the horses, and one-on-one care, our patients begin to recognize many of their own destructive behavioral patterns, insecurities, and fears while learning how to develop healthy communication, trust, and relationship building skills.

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Equine Therapy Addresses Underlying Issues

It is very common for patients to have a history of trauma, a confused sense of personal identity, fears of inadequacy, unmet needs for unconditional love, and many other underlying issues when they begin our equine-assisted therapy program. By creating a safe space where vulnerability is encouraged, participants discover a sense of acceptance that allows them to express their feelings openly without fear of judgment. This supportive environment helps addicts recognize and overcome some of the psychological and emotional barriers that have prevented them from confronting the underlying issues that have contributed to their dysfunctional behaviors and dependence on drugs as a coping mechanism.

Benefits Of Equine-Assisted Therapy

Our equine-assisted therapy program focuses on helping patients rebuild their confidence and self-worth, which plays a significant role in empowering them to take control over their addiction and finally feel like they deserve to live a better life. Our patients gradually begin to connect with feelings they have seemingly lost through their suffering from addiction such as trust and responsibility, which enables them to communicate their needs, establish healthier relationships, and take accountability for their own lives in a proactive way. Through our group therapy sessions, patients learn to value the importance of diversity, support, and teamwork — gaining practical skills they can apply to better communicate and relate to others on their path to recovery.

More Info on Holistic Therapies

Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation

Every year, thousands of U.S. horses are sent to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. Lucky the horse was bound for a similar fate – until he was adopted by Dale Phillips.

Withdrawn and skinny when he arrived, Lucky was given plenty of fresh air, exercise, nutritious food and proper grooming. As part of equine-assisted therapy program, Bluff patients bathed him, exercised him, fed him twice a day and made sure he had clean bedding to sleep on. After a month of tender loving care, Lucky was fully restored to health.

The journey of the horses in our equine therapy program – many who were neglected, abused or given up on – holds valuable lessons for the men and women who come to Bluff for drug and alcohol rehab. Each month, we will rescue and rehabilitate another horse in need.

Sporting a gleaming coat and a gentle disposition, Lucky was adopted as a therapy horse for a family whose 6-year-old son has spina bifida, a birth defect. To say goodbye, Bluff patients held a “graduation ceremony” for Lucky, and wished him well as he headed for his new home.

Lucky’s Story


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