Physiological Effects of Equine Assisted Learning on Elderly Adults
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe calming effect of horses has been utilized in numerous therapies; however, few scientific data demonstrate the physiological benefits horses provide to humans. This study was completed to analyze some physiological effects Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) may have on adults above 55 years of age. The experiment examined how horses can affect the heart rate variability (HRV) in humans during a session of "Con Su Permiso", an interaction method to be explained later. Other effects, including immune system function and self-esteem, are analyzed as well. Human substitutes for horses were used as a control for this experiment. A total of 24 people participated in the experiment. The results for the interactions with the horse substitutes (humans) were that there was an increase in heart rate (HR) and HRV (SDNN). For the interactions with the horses, there was an increase in the HR and the percent very low frequency component of HRV (%VLF). Overall results suggest interactions with horses through EAL benefits elderly adults by stimulating their sympathetic system without stressing them. As for self-esteem and immune function, the results show that both horse and human interactions significantly increase self-esteem in participants but there is no significant change in immune system function.
Degree ProgramHonors College