Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2016


The present study was designed to explore the impact of equine-assisted activities on attachment security among women who have experienced intimate partner violence. Attachment security was assessed at three different time points using the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR) (Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998), which measures attachment on two separate scales of anxiety and avoidance. Proximity maintenance, one of the components of an attachment figure, was assessed using coded video data of the interaction between horse and participant during their first meeting and goodbye. Five women who self-reported experiencing domestic abuse were recruited for this study, of whom four were within the intended age range of 18-30 years old. Each participant was matched with a women who did not self-report any incidence of domestic abuse based on level of horse experience followed by similarity of age. Likely due to a small sample size, results from this study are not significant. However, a reduction in anxiety observed solely for the women in the abuse group suggests there may be an effect among a larger sample size; this consideration extends into the coded video data as a marginally significant effect is present with women in the abuse group spending a longer period of time meeting the horse than did the women in the matched group. Slight increases in avoidance were observed for both groups, as well as in anxiety levels of the matched group. Overall, the findings of this study hint at the potential use of equine-assisted activities for impacting attachment security in abused women but require further investigation.

Included in

Psychology Commons