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Therapeutic Horseback Riding Can Help Alleviate PTSD in Veterans

Last Updated: February 16, 2018.

For military veterans, therapeutic horseback riding may be a clinically effective intervention for relieving symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, according to a study published online Jan. 19 in Military Medical Research.

FRIDAY, Feb. 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- For military veterans, therapeutic horseback riding (THR) may be a clinically effective intervention for relieving symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study published online Jan. 19 in Military Medical Research.

Rebecca A. Johnson, Ph.D., R.N., from the University of Missouri in Columbia, and colleagues used a randomized wait-list controlled design with repeated measures of U.S. military veterans to test the efficacy of a six-week THR program. Twenty-nine participants were enrolled and randomly allocated to the THR group (15 participants) or a wait-list control group (14 participants). The wait-list group began riding after a six-week waiting period in the control group.

The researchers identified a statistically significant reduction in PTSD scores after three weeks of THR (P ≤ 0.01); after six weeks of THR there was a statistically and clinically significant decrease (P ≤ 0.01). At three and six weeks, the likelihood of participants having lower PTSD scores was 66.7 and 87.5 percent, respectively. Findings for coping self-efficacy, emotion regulation, and social or emotional loneliness did not reach statistical significance. Trends in the predicted direction were seen for coping self-efficacy and emotion regulation. For emotional loneliness, results were opposite the predicted direction.

"The findings suggest that THR may be a clinically effective intervention for alleviating PTSD symptoms in military veterans," the authors write.

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