Equine Therapy

Equine Therapy

Leaning into our summer theme of the cowboy-inspired Wild And Free collection, we are delighted to be able to share about horses. My lifelong friend, Maura Coyne-Lipinski, does meaningful therapy work, including equine therapy. Learn how Maura's life passion integrates nature and animals to help live a richer life. 

Tell us about your therapy business  

I work with adults using talk therapy, hypnotherapy and equine therapy to address life challenges, past trauma, anxiety, depression and grief.  Most of my therapy work is conducted at a private practice called Mindfulness Counseling LLC where I serve as Clinical Director under CEO and founder, Kelly Morgan. I also own Holistic Therapy and Consulting LLC where my horses, Danny and Steely assist people therapeutically, simply by being themselves, by being horses. 


My job is very fulfilling in the fact that I get to connect with so many amazing people with diverse stories, who are just trying to figure out the challenges of life and need some support along the way. I am a licensed independent social worker and I completed training in hypnotherapy and also attended Equine therapy training through an amazing organization called EAGALA. The model uses a method of being on the ground with horses and noticing what comes up, observing and processing what you are feeling in the presence of the horse and the horse’s movements. It can be a very symbolic process and people can have profound experiences. For many years, I have loved the idea of connecting people and horses in a way that can benefit both the human and the horse.  Many large organizations for equine therapy are involved in horse rescue and therefore are providing this support for both horses and humans in a really big way. 

What inspired you to create it?  

As long as I can remember, I was always drawn to horses and felt a deep love for all animals. This was a love that I shared with my father, who I lost at a young age. So, I suppose, it was also a part of grieving him and honoring him.


Horses are magnificent creatures and everyone is usually amazed by them or even afraid of them, due to their size and strength. I rode horses as a child and as an adult and then I started to realize that just being around horses is very healing. I would talk with my mother about equine therapy and she would mail me articles about it from the newspaper. Many people report that they can just walk with and talk to a horse and the problems of the day fade away, anxiety decreases and depression lifts. In horseback riding, you learn to harness and manage your emotions and energy, since the horse will respond from what you are feeling. So, if you are frustrated and bring that to the barn, the horse will feel that and probably be more reactive that day. Horseback riding and horsemanship involve a great deal of self awareness to recognize your emotions, process the emotions and be present in a more grounded way. In addition, you are learning to read the horse's emotions and work with the horse, not against the horse. All of this has so many applications for us to so many other things in life. The horses are our teachers. But I want to make a distinction between pushing emotions down and ignoring them versus identifying and processing them. Emotions are held at the sub-conscious level, so people and animals around us can sense them. That’s where the next part of how horses can assist us comes into the picture. 

Like any being, when you really start to study a horse, you realize that what you thought looked like unpredictable behavior, is actually pretty predictable and has meaning. So watching their interactions with each other and how they function in a herd can be amazing as well. You see certain horses have leadership roles, others take protector roles, others are herd members that follow the leaders to the food, water and safety. The babies are born typically overnight so that they are ready to move with the herd the very next day. The connections for how we function in society are endless. In this way, group work for professional teams with the horses can be an excellent exercise in understanding the importance of each person on a team as well as foster professional development skills to function smoothly and effectively. 

I recognized early in my career that some of the best types of healing for some people can occur when we are in a natural setting, not an office. The horses have big energy and big emotions. They can magnify and mirror what we are feeling and experiencing and also being in their presence often helps point to areas of life where we are struggling or confused or have suppressed emotions. A client may comment on how they feel related to how the horses are interacting with each other or with the humans. From there, the therapeutic method can combine the concepts that the horses help us to identify with some hypnotherapy or meditative work. In this way, the client is working to release negative conclusions or thoughts about themself and develop healthier, more confident self regard.


How do you show yourself love?

My favorite thing is being with my animals in nature and I also love yoga. I love reading and writing. I think the main way is to be in tune with what I need at different times and to then follow through on that. Sometimes, I just need quiet, sometimes I need time with my husband and loved people!


What is your favorite love song?

 All I Want is You by U2

Anything else you would like to share?

I have a passion for the work that many are doing to provide wild spaces for the wild horse herds across the world. One of my favorite organizations is Return to Freedom, Wild Horse Conservation in California. I had an opportunity to visit with Founder, Neda DeMayo, and write about the organization’s amazing work and commune with the family bands of horses, many of which have been reunited through this organization's work. Also, significantly in the mental health field, there is much research being done that highlights the impact of equine therapy for all and especially for treating trauma. The work with military veterans is profound and has applications for mental health, in general. I encourage readers to consider the breadth of the research and also to consider how nature and animals can assist all of us in living a richer, fuller life.

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