PHYSIOLOGICAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF MINIATURE EQUINE THERAPY ON HUMAN HEALTH
AuthorParmar, Deesha Prashant
MetadataShow full item record
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.
AbstractAnimal therapy has been used to help people recognize and process their emotions as a step towards improving their mental and physical health. In this study we measured the physiological and psychological benefits specifically of equine therapy on heart health. Miniature horses were chosen due to their approachability compared to larger horses. This shortterm study tested how grooming a miniature horse affects heart rate variability (HRV). To understand this, heart rate, RMSSD, SDNN, %VLF, %LF, and %HF were analyzed in humans and miniatures. These parameters were measured before, during, and after each activity: grooming (experimental) and coherent meditative breathing (control). Parameters were also measured in an office setting as a comparison between environments. We hypothesized that seniors who groomed miniatures would have greater HRV, as they would become calmer and happier. Although the hypothesis was not entirely confirmed, other positive conclusions emerged. Psychologically, humans grooming miniature horses displayed more positive sensations and feelings post-grooming through their words and gestures. Physiologically, trends toward an increase in HRV were present, and distinct matches were observed in HRV frequency oscillations during grooming between 7 of 11 miniature horse-humans pairs. Such matches may reflect a physiological manifestation of the bonding process, beneficial for therapy.
Degree ProgramHonors College