Malibu Wellness Ranch

Follow us

Equine Recovery Program

An Experiential Treatment Component

The Equine Program at Malibu is our signature experiential treatment component. This program occurs 6 days a week with the clients divided into groups allowing each client to participate in the activities 3 times a week. Our treatment campus allows for over 800 acres of riding trails and scenic woods.

We have over 40 horses of all sizes and personalities. Each client is assigned to a horse for the duration of their stay to ensure that each client’s needs are matched appropriately with a horse that will allow them to be successful in equine activities.

Clients participate in activities such as grooming, tacking, horse handling, horseback riding and general horse care. These activities not only assist with physical wellness, such as strength, muscle tone, balance, and coordination, but also emotional and mental healing as each client bonds, cares for and connects with their horse.

While learning to ride and care for a horse, a client can learn to increase their attention and focus, sensory perception, communication skills, emotional vulnerability, confidence, and self-esteem. The horse activities are taught and supervised by our highly–trained Ranch staff and therapeutically processed with Malibu’s Clinical staff.

Through this program, we have been able to witness clients regain the concept of trust. This sometimes comes first with their assigned horse, and then transfers to the staff and peers, as clients become more trustworthy of others and openminded to suggestions and guidance regarding their recovery process.

We have seen this program assist clients who have experienced past trauma, unresolved grief, or abusive relationships. We have found that learning to love and care for an animal can support someone with learning to care and love themselves again.
Once a client increases their self-esteem and self-love, we have found this can produce an increase for a client’s internal motivation for change. This program has allowed some of the most unmotivated and guarded clients an opportunity to break away from that mold and spark an interest in improving their life and living a sober lifestyle.

We also offer volunteer opportunities during non-clinical hours for clients to assist with horse care and other equine activities. The allotted time for extra equine involvement is dependent on the client’s level of care and their required clinical treatment hours throughout the day.

Equine Program Value and Benefits

Once a client increases their self-esteem and self-love, we have found this can produce an increase for a client’s internal motivation for change. This program has allowed some of the most unmotivated and guarded clients an opportunity to break away from that mold and spark an interest in improving their life and living a sober lifestyle.

We also offer volunteer opportunities during non-clinical hours for clients to assist with horse care and other equine activities. The allotted time for extra equine involvement is dependent on the client’s level of care and their required clinical treatment hours throughout the day.

Equine Program FAQ's

What does the program consist of?

  • Adopt-A-Horse Program; clients are paired with a horse based on personality that they will stay with throughout the treatment continuum.
  • Highlighting the correlation between work with the horses and recovery (metaphorical experiences; emotional growth) 
  • Therapists observe client behavior with horses to assess behavioral/emotional issues and process issues in both individual and small group settings

What do the clients do?

Groom, tack, care for, walk, ride, bathe, and bond through all activities. (All supervised and guided by the Ranch staff.)

What is the therapeutic value or impact of the program?

  • Relationship / Trust building  
  • Identification / Balance / Expression of Emotions
  • Confidence and Assertiveness 
  • Increase Understanding of and need for boundaries 
  • Builds resilience and focus 
  • Increase non-verbal communication skills 
  • Connection / Empathy 
  • How to cope with, work through, and discard negative emotions 
  • Mindfulness / Relaxation / Body awareness 
  • Teamwork 
  • Elevation in mood, self-esteem, and self-worth 
  • Accountability / Responsibility 

How often do clients participate in this program?

At least 3x per week. However, depending on client’s level of care they may volunteer to spend their free time at the barn/working with the animals.

We love to hear from our community members!

“Being uncomfortable was never something I could process and work through in a healthy manner. Incapable of sitting with myself, my go-to solution was drugs and alcohol. Without coping skills, feelings are intense and painful. I have spent more than half my life absolutely ruled by fear. When I first arrived at Malibu, I was deprived of my go-to solution and overwhelmed by fear. With the assistance of the staff at the barn, I have been able to face my fear and push through being uncomfortable. They have been so patient and compassionate with guiding me through it; I am now very comfortable. I love my time with the horses and how it always relates to my journey in recovery. I am incredibly grateful for every day I get to spend here healing and learning to love again. Slowly and with great joy, I am learning the coping skills I never developed during active addition.”

~ Katie L. | Alumni

Physical Benefits

Mental Benefits