Equine Therapy

Uinta’s Equine Program is the most purposeful and comprehensive Equine Program in Residential Treatment.

Horses are great partners in helping individuals through personal struggles. Like humans, horses are herd animals with a social order. They seek companionship and need to have their trust and love earned. When our teens spend one-on-one time with their horse they learn to build a trusting, sympathetic relationship.

Horse Ownership

Each individual at Uinta Academy gets their own horse. By assuming ownership responsibilities, they are tasked with ensuring its emotional and physical well-being. Every day they feed, water, and groom their horse. Students put in the time and effort to build a secure, trusting relationship with their horse. Responsibility and establishing secure relationships are two skills which individuals naturally begin to transfer to peer and family relationships.

To help students learn altruism, our students do not ride their horses at Uinta. Instead, horseback riding lessons with a professional riding instructor are offered off-campus. Riding horses requires an individual to communicate with the horse, but from a position of respectful control. At Uinta, we want students to develop a relationship that is based on service, care, and reciprocal emotion— not from a place of control.

Horses are naturally wary creatures that tend to view all situations with suspicion. They communicate primarily through body language, and our students will need to develop the skills to interpret this subtle non-verbal communication in order to successfully bond with their animal. Through this experiential learning experience, students will build skills to help them create and retain relationships, communication, and empathy for others.

For teens with no prior experience, the size of a horse can be intimidating. If a teen is initially uneasy about approaching their horse, the staff works patiently with them until they feel more comfortable. As the teen confronts their fears and learns to approach and handle the horse, their confidence grows and they feel empowered to confront challenges.

Equine Therapy

Uinta provides a dual-modality Equine Therapy program using Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Parelli Natural Horsemanship.

Everyone participates in a weekly Equine Assisted Psychotherapy group which is used to treat a variety of mental health conditions and helps patients build confidence, self-awareness, and empathy. During these sessions teens and horses participate in specific activities designed to develop communication, boundaries, emotional regulation, problem-solving, teamwork, assertiveness, and self-esteem. These activities help youth visualize the correlation between the horse’s reactions and reactions that they may have experienced in relationships with people in their life.

Uinta’s Equine Therapists are all trained by Greg Kersten, the Founder of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Founder of EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association).

Parelli Natural Horsemanship focuses on the natural relationship between human and animal, the core principles being “Love, Leadership, Language.” These concepts complement the relationship skills that are the foundation of Uinta’s therapeutic approach. During the summer months, our students are taught seven games that they can play with their horses to establish trust, leadership, and communication. The games are designed as a fun way for teens to practice interpersonal skills while building self-confidence.

The Parelli Natural Horsemanship programming and techniques were developed in 1982 by Pat and Linda Parelli as a way to improve the relationship between humans and horses. This international program focuses on the natural bond that is created through communication, understanding, and psychology versus mechanics, fear, and intimidation.

Horseback Riding

Uinta provides recreational Horseback Riding with horses that are not involved in the daily relationship building process with our students. This activity is offered weekly during the spring and summer months to all students. A professional riding instructor works with all the students so that those with or without previous horseback riding experience can learn to safely and properly ride in an arena or wilderness trail setting. Students also learn and perform all the pre and post-riding care for the horses such as tacking and grooming.

"Girls who come to Uinta are pleasantly surprised that they live in a home in a residential neighborhood, that the mountains are right outside their door, and that they get to do all the normal things that teenagers like to do."

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