Equine psychotherapy: horses become the metaphor for clients relationships


Dr. Corine Samwel decided five years ago to take her clinical psychology practice out to the pasture. She now specializes in equine psychotherapy and is certified with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. She is one of the only equine therapists in Tallahassee.

Samwel has two horses on her 5 ½-acre property – a white-spotted half-Paso Fino, half-Appaloosa horse, and a bay Quarter Horse.

The 60-year-old Dutch woman said her practice, Red Hills Equine Therapy, is considered experiential. During a session, she takes her clients to a pasture with two horses and then asks them to interact with the animals at a pace comfortable for them. This is a special therapy that is still relatively new and slowly gaining traction, especially for mental health-related issues. It is said that equine therapy helps in the holistic development of a person suffering from ADD, Anxiety, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Depression, and a lot more.

The EAGALA model Red Hills Equine Therapy follows includes a team of horses, a mental health specialist (Samwel) and equine specialist Peggy Jordan.

“I don’t use the names of the horses or the gender of the horses. Horses become the metaphor for the relationships in (my clients’) lives. I just call them the brown and the white horse,” she said. This might also benefit the clients as they get to name the horses whatever they like, which forms a kind of bond between each client as if they are creating something new.