Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Chris Koch, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

James Foster, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Dean Longfellow, Psy.D.


Equestrian athletes have not been the topic of systematic study. There is a vast array of folklore and wisdom, lay study, and practice at the grassroots level regarding the relationship of horse and rider. The field of therapeutic horseback riding primarily consists of examining the benefits of riding for the physically handicapped. There is also the relatively fledgling movement of equine-assisted psychotherapy, that typically combines qualified therapists alongside qualified horse trainers. European study is more longstanding, extensive, and includes exploration of the psychotherapeutic benefits of equine therapy. The smattering of work is grounded on the study of the equestrian athlete, the unique aspects of the horse-human relationship, and how these animals serve in the healing of human minds, bodies, and souls. Levinson (1982) called for both intuitive and scientific approaches that address how humans and animals interact. He called for further study addressing the effects of animals on the human psyche, human-animal communication, and the therapeutic use of animals in formal psychotherapy. The Jewel Equestrian Scale was developed to further the quantitative research while exploring the benefits and risks of equestrian activities. The impact of injury, the attraction to and fear of the horse, and the difference between performance anxiety and fear for one's safety is also explored. Thus far, the literature has addressed the computer-human interaction, the pet-human interaction, and this study will investigate the horse-human interaction.

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