Date of Conferral
The field of equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) is growing in popularity as an alternative healing approach. However, there is a paucity of peer-reviewed research on the horses who serve as equal partners in EAAT. The purpose of this quantitative study was to discover the impact of equine-facilitated therapeutic activities on the temperament of horses, and to determine how to select a better human-to-horse therapeutic match when providing EAAT services. The theoretical framework for this research drew from Romanes' theory of animal intelligence, which predicts that temperament would change as a result of prolonged participation in specific work (EAAT in this case) that would cause the horse to reflect its associate's temperament. The study explored whether horses used in EAAT programs exhibit unique traits, whether the use of horses in an equine-human development program with clients diagnosed with health disorders affects the temperament of the horses over time, and whether a relationship exists between EAAT horses and positive therapeutic outcomes for clients. Sixty-four horse handlers in EAAT and 75 in control programs completed the Horse Personality Questionnaire (HPQ) designed to assess horse temperament. Temperament traits were then compared between EAAT and control horses, for horses participating at EAAT programs for different durations of time, and for horses that were more effective in treatment. Significant differences in temperament traits were present between horses in EAAT and control programs, as revealed by t-tests. The results identified traits of the most effective EAAT horses. This study contributes to social change by providing EAAT with a comprehensive horse temperament assessment that can inform efforts to unify and extend the field.
Helmbrecht Howard, Thecla M., "Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies: The Measuring of Equine Temperament" (2016). Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies. 2185.