The Human Animal Bond Research Institute announced a new research project to see whether horses might be able to help reduce symptoms among people with Parkinson’s disease.

 “We hope that the results of this study will further the efficacy of equine assisted therapy as a novel treatment modality for this population, and lead to a more widespread acceptance.” said B. Rhett Rigby, Ph.D., who is leading the study at Texas Woman’s University.

The investigation will include 30 men with Parkinson’s between ages 40 and 80. Participants will be randomly split into two groups. One will complete eight weeks of equine assisted therapy; the others will complete a similar protocol on a horseback-riding simulator. 

Preliminary data in the form of two pilot studies suggest that an improvement in postural sway and balance is present after both EAT and simulated riding in older adults with balance deficits. The study will seek to determine if these adaptations will lead to improvements with other hallmark features of Parkinson’s pathophysiology. These include bradykinesia, posture, balance and gait.