The physical, emotional, cognitive, and social benefits of therapeutic riding are all encompassing for riders, volunteers, and family members that are involved in the specialized and meaningful programs offered at the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA).
Through EAAT (Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies), participants can gain a sense of freedom and independence, learn new skills, interact socially, experience unique accomplishments and create emotional connections with horses and people that offer acceptance and unconditional affection and create bonds that can last a lifetime.
Due to exposure to potentially traumatic events, First Responders have an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety. The first Canadian national survey of First Responders found that 44.5% of participants assessed demonstrated symptoms consistent with one or more mental disorders (Carleton et al., 2018).
Community mobilization efforts resulted in the First Responders Mental Health Coalition (FRMHC) which tasked a Working Group to pilot therapeutic equine support programs for First Responders experiencing occupational distress. The Working Group developed an Equine Facilitated Group Psychotherapy Pilot Program called 2STRONG. The Working Group is comprised of community representatives from Emergency Medical Services, Fire, Police, Hospital Emergency, Equine Therapeutic Facility and Mental Health Organizations.
Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) is a non-conventional form of Psychotherapy that is based on action and experiences. The Treatment Team consists of an Equine Specialist to ensure the safety and well-being of First Responders and the Horses, while the Psychotherapist helps in debriefing experiences to explore new strategies to apply in life outside of the arena. In Addition, the Treatment Team includes a First Responder who applies their learned knowledge and experience with recovery of Post Traumatic Stress.