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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Healing Horses

July 11, 2022

“There’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” ~ Winston Churchill

Spring and summer weather brings the horses to Madonna. Since 2018, Madonna has partnered with Windsong Therapeutic Riding Center to integrate horses into therapy sessions for our patients. Horses have long been known for their “healing” power and the rehabilitation world has taken steps to readily involve horses as a therapeutic tool.

“Horses can assist in physical, psychological and emotional recovery after injury or illness," said Brooke Murtaugh, an occupational therapist and brain injury program manager at Madonna. "Patients can interact with horses to improve their physical, cognitive and emotional health. Therapeutic goals such as sitting, standing, walking, balance, strength, communication and cognition can be the focus with the presence of a horse. Horses are naturally intuitive animals and can meet a patient where they are at physically and emotionally."

Engagement with horses is incredibly empowering and can promote confidence for patients that may have been lost after injury. Most importantly, we see the joy that horses bring to patients on the days they come to Madonna. The smiles, laughter and recovery witnessed when rehabilitation occurs within the presence of a horse prove what Winston Churchill and many others before him realized, that horses heal.


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