Equine Touch & Sensory Therapy

What is Equine Touch and Sensory Therapy?

Our unique and enriched program of equine touch and sensory therapy was specifically designed by the founder, Kelly Cox Vicari, in order to create a healing connection between horse and human. This approach of connecting our human senses with that of a horse’s, is not only extremely healing to the client, but is also a beautiful opportunity for these incredible animals. Something genuinely, magical happens when the two come together. 

Through our non-mounted, touch and sensory, therapy program, we incorporate the companionship of well trained, therapy horses with individuals, who are desiring a unique approach in therapeutic options, with a hands-on technique. 

What truly sets us apart from other equine therapy programs is the fact that every session is uniquely designed specifically, for each individual. This allows specific issues and needs to be directly approached with specific details pertaining to the horse and individual as they spend their time together. 

A Little History

Equine therapy, the use of horses in the treatment of health issues, dates back to the 1700’s when individuals and patients often cared for themselves through the simple act of being near animals. Since the 1960s, numbers of research studies have shown improvement in both,  psychological and physical needs when animals are used as part of the therapy experience, as well as improvement with memory, trust building, anxiety, depression, addiction recovery, social anxiety, self-efficacy, interpersonal interactions, mood disorders and physiological changes in heart rate and cortisol levels.

“Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth.”

Margaret Atwood
Brushing a horse

Examples of our specifically designed programs used in individual sessions may include:

  • Interacting with a horse aids in
  • facing fears and/or anxiety
  • builds trust
  • builds emotional awareness
  • Haltering and Leading a horse
  • builds trust and patience
  • promotes leadership abilities
  • increases confidence
  • offers quiet and reflective time
  • Grooming a horse
  • creates a special bond with a horse
  • has the ability to lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • builds confidence
  • brings peace and comfort
  • offers quiet and reflective time
  • Obstacle Course
  • creates confidence and precise decision making
  • builds trust and problem solving
  • builds social skills
  • Exercising the horse
  • using a unique training known as Liberty Training
  • only offered after multiple sessions
  • builds trust, confidence and courage
  • creates responsibility

But why horses? 

For centuries horses have relied on their abilities to adapt to change, sense their environment and use the interdependence of the herd to thrive.  

As prey animals, horses are keenly sensitive to their environment in order to ensure their safety. Horses do not think in language, but rather feel the energy within and around them, which makes them highly intuitive and emotionally attuned to the slightest gesture, body posture or tension, tone of voice, or glance. They have a heightened sensitivity to human emotion, which is what they are most attuned to when around us, including those emotions that are often out of our conscious awareness. 

They respond to our behavior and feelings through their body language, which is clear and immediate; thus they can teach us how we impact those around us. Horses are considered living, breathing biofeedback machines. The connections between people and horses have proven to be therapeutic in many populations due to the nonjudgmental, unconditional interactions horses offer to humans. 

When horses are working with clients, they are very docile and relaxed, which in itself is truly, amazing since humans are typically predators of horses. However, the horses are able to sense that the human has a need, such as depression, grief, social anxiety, physical disability, memory loss and numerous other difficulties.

Girl in wheelchair with horse

What to Expect

Safety Talk

This is an essential discussion regarding horse safety and correct handling. We review this regularly. 

Horse Introductions

  • We explain how to approach and greet a horse. 
  • Learn a bit about the history of the horse you will be working with. 
  • Learn that when we give respect to the horse, you will certainly receive it back!

Herd Observation

This is a wonderful way of observing horses in their natural environment. 4-6 horses will be freely roaming in their pasture, where we talk and observe them for a few minutes. This is a wonderful ice breaker and often allows clients to make comparisons with the horses and themselves.  

Choose a Horse

Usually, there will be an option to choose from 4-6 therapy horses. We do however, begin with the basics and then allow the choice to be made by the client. 


Here we explain the correct and unaggressive way to halter a horse. 

Boundaries & Moving the Horse

Here we explain the boundaries of the horse, safe zones, and your space vs. his space. 

Leading & Quiet Time In The Arena

Teaching clients how to lead a horse usually will happen after the second visit. 

Once they learn the specifics of leading, they are given quiet time in the arena with the option to lead, groom, breathe with the horse, or just be with the horse. 

We often play music softly in the background and clients can actually walk in rhythm with the music.

Hand Grazing Outside

The horses are allowed to graze in the grass while being lead by the client, offering a very serene and peaceful encounter. Clients can spend the time just touching their horses and having quiet conversations with them in a safe place.

We explain the grooming tools and how to use them, then let clients groom their horses. 

This is where the client can focus more on their interaction with the horse and the horse’s responses, what he is saying, more than actually cleaning. 

We may discuss things such as, What brush do you think he likes the most? Any special itchy spots? What is he saying to you when he does that? What do you think he likes for you to do? Why is he doing this particular thing?

We love questions!!

We have an obstacle course set up and let the clients who have participate in at least 2 sessions, lead their horses over, around and through the obstacles.

We focus on what the horse is saying and their own body language. This is a very interesting activity because often the clients learn of their own feelings. This is a great exercise to interpret the horse’s behavior in connection with what the client is feeling. 

Each time a client participates in their own, unique session, trust and healing increase with the ability to work with these extraordinary, therapy horses. The process continues to build as each additional session progresses.

Please allow these gentle giants to be a continuing part of your uniquely designed life! 

Women experience equine therapy services on walking on trail at our farm