The purpose of this study is to examine how participating in equine therapy either positively or negatively affects previously-deployed veterans’ quality of life. A total of five veterans were interviewed over the course of one week. All participants were asked about their personal deployment history and service, length of time in therapy, how equine therapy has affected their life, and if they would recommend equine therapy to other veterans. All five participants reported all positive and no negative experience with therapy, even after specifically being asked if there were any negatives involved. Additionally, all participants reported their quality of life as having been improved in some way as a direct result of participating in therapy. Once the interviews were evaluated, a total of five themes were identified within the participants’ answers. The first two themes were related to horses providing an outlet for psychological unrest. The third related to how soldiers and horses were similar- they are used to doing what is necessary to survive. The identification of this similarity helps the soldier understand that they aren’t alone and helps them to feel understood. The fourth theme was related to the idea that riding horses may help in physical rehabilitation by utilizing and strengthening a musculature that is used to complete normal daily activities. The last theme involved a sense of pride that achievement through therapy brought about, and the emotional fulfillment that responsibility for another being helped the participants to achieve.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2014


Kathy Splinter-Watkins

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)


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Cheryl and Mark