The Power of Horse-Human Connections

Liberty Getman, DVM, DACVS, Equine Technical Services, Zoetis, and Bobby Cowles, DVM, MS, MBA, Managing Veterinarian, Equine Technical Services, Zoetis

Jen Grant, Head of Marketing, Zoetis Equine, U.S.

Anyone who’s spent enough time around horses knows there’s a strong, uncommon bond between our species. Through a millennia-long partnership that dates to 3500 B.C., we’ve developed a unique, unspoken language that offers a profound level of understanding between one another. And now, research on this phenomenon validates what many of us horse owners intuitively know, the horse-human connection can be instrumental in one’s healing journey, whether working to improve a person’s physical or mental health and well-being.

At Zoetis Equine, quite a few of us on the veterinary technical services, marketing, sales and leadership teams are in fact horse owners ourselves (or aspiring ones!). We can attest to the sense of calm and “present-mindedness” experienced with a quick trip to the stable. This common thread experience is one of the key drivers behind our relentless pursuit to help improve the health of horses, thus also supporting the veterinarians and horse owners who care for them. 

The Zoetis Equine team at the American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention in San Diego, Calif. (2023)

In fact, we’ve strategically partnered with several organizations who share in our mission to spread awareness around the power of horse-human connections. We’d like to take a moment to spotlight these equine industry leaders: 

Zoetis Equine is proud to serve as the official health and wellness partner of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), an organization committed to enriching lives through equine-assisted services. The extensive PATH Intl. network of centers and credentialed professionals serves individuals with diverse needs, offering a unique blend of physically and emotionally therapeutic benefits through spending time with and caring for horses.

Equine-assisted services is an “umbrella term” used to describe several disciplines that incorporate horses in a therapeutic setting. Whether a licensed practitioner helps clients improve motor skills, a psychologist helps participants with emotional wellness, or an accredited certification holder teaches the joys of therapeutic riding—there’s something for everyone. Achieving tasks with horses, whether grooming, riding or conquering an obstacle course, can instill a unique sense of accomplishment and increased self-esteem. A newfound confidence after partnering with horses in a therapeutic setting might just be the medicine needed for numerous kids, teens and adults.

Horses for Mental Health (HMH) stands as a beacon in the realm of equine-assisted mental health services by increasing awareness, public engagement, funds and access to programs incorporating horses for emotional health and personal growth. Partnering with nonprofit organizations, philanthropists, celebrities, influencers and companies like Zoetis Equine, HMH seeks to realize our collective vision of a world where all mental health needs are met together. 

To raise awareness and provide funds for programs utilizing horses to improve mental health, Zoetis is partnering with HMH’s Seen Through Horses campaign as the Title Partner for the third year in a row. Seen Through Horses catalogs stories showcasing the powerful progress that clients, including veterans, have made by working with horses. Breathe: A Story of Transformation is a part of the Seen Through Horses campaign and a great example of the impact mental health services incorporating horses can have. 

In a recent podcast episode of Wellness with Jamie Brannan, “Harnessing the Healing Power of Horses for Mental Health,” Jen Grant, head of marketing at Zoetis U.S. Equine division, partner Lynn Thomas, LCSW and co-founder of Horses for Mental Health and Jessica Normand, board member of PATH International discuss the impact of horses on mental health. “There is an amazing reciprocity of care between horses and those who care for horses,” Grant stated. The team shared initiatives that the equine community can get involved in, including the Seen Through Horses campaign.

Stay tuned to the month of May for the next installment in the campaign and consider inviting your peers/clinics/organizations to donate to this remarkable nonprofit.

In the international realm of equine and human partnerships, the vision of the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) is a world where the unique capacity of the horse to transform human lives is universally understood and valued. HHRF provides grants for rigorous research on the power of the “horse and human connection” that develops evidence-based knowledge essential to best practices for working with both horses and humans. The foundation provides a wide range of learning opportunities to help share research, knowledge, and promote collaboration with all in the field. 

Zoetis is committed to quality research and works closely with the Horses and Humans Research Foundation to further solidify the integration of equine-assisted services into the human and veterinary medical communities. This group’s efforts promise a future where horses continue to be instrumental in physical, mental, and emotional health care.

Getting the word out about equine-assisted services is extremely important for increasing accessibility. So many people have a love of horses but may not realize the incredible healing power they can offer. To raise awareness, we partnered with The Washington Post Creative Groupfor an interactive article called “How Horses Help Humans Heal—and Thrive,” along with a feature video, “Lessons on Horseback,” to spotlight organization, Lead Changes founded by Chris Cox Horsemanship

Article: How Horses Help Humans Heal and Thrive, WP Creative Group
Video: Lessons on Horseback by WP Creative Group

Through these partnerships and sponsorships, we aim to raise awareness and provide funds to help organizations dedicated to equine-assisted services and horsemanship. By embracing and advocating for the healing power of horses, we at Zoetis Equine, along with our devoted partners, set out to not only change lives but also nurture a community that cherishes this extraordinary bond. Together, we’re paving the way for equine-assisted services to become a cornerstone of health and well-being, offering hope, healing and renewed purpose to all who seek it.

All trademarks are the property of Zoetis Services LLC or a related company or a licensor unless otherwise noted. © 2024 Zoetis Services LLC. All rights reserved. GEQ-01187

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