Mini Therapy Horses Visit Colleges to Help with End-of-Semester Stress

Posted by Allie Layos
College student with miniature horse
Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune

Mini therapy horses are now being used to manage student stress on college campuses. 

The end of the semester is a crazy and stressful time for college students, but have no fear — mini therapy horses are here to help. These miniature horses are being used on a number of college campuses to help students de-stress from their end of semester papers, presentations and finals.

Roosevelt University, in Chicago, held a De-Stress Fest on November 30, which included Play-Doh, coloring, cookie decorating and of course, miniature horses, with the aim of focusing on students’ mental health.

Ann Diamond, outreach coordinator at Roosevelt’s counseling center, explained in an interview with the Chicago Tribune:

“The ultimate goal, I think, is to decrease stress in order to enhance academic success and overall performance. Also, it’s to remind students about the community of support available to all of them here at the university.”

For junior Rob Chesler, stress can be a good motivator to get his work done, but events like the De-Stress Fest — and visits from the miniature horses — are welcome distractions. He even took a selfie with Lunar, the oldest mini from the Barrington-based nonprofit Mane In Heaven.

“If you’re living in this world of hard work every second of every hour of your life, then you’re not going to be happy and you’re just going to be all about work,” Chesler said. “If you have little horses every now and then, you have moments where you can just breathe and enjoy life.”

Roosevelt is not the only college to enlist the help of therapy horses. At Northwestern University, students have their pick of stress-relieving activities, from the annual campus-wide scream the Sunday before finals, to Lego building, board games, and late-breakfasts, and a visit from the miniature horses.

For many students, the horses couldn’t have come at a better time. According to a spring 2016 survey by the American College Health Association, nearly 32 percent of students reported stress, and 23 percent said that anxiety affected their academic performance.

The survey also showed that 85 percent of students said they were overwhelmed by all they had to do within the past 12 months, and in the past year, 17 percent of students were diagnosed with or treated for anxiety, 14 percent for depression and 8 percent for panic attacks. All of these numbers are up from the survey taken five years ago, making the therapy horse visits even more important.

“It’s just a way of making sure our students have the opportunity to take a break from what is honestly a pretty intense week,” Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage concluded.

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Mini Therapy Horses Visit Colleges to Help with End-of-Semester Stress