Rutgers Study: Therapy Horses Are Not Stressed When Working With Veterans

Stella Almeida, right presents Karyn Malinowski with a check for Rutgers Equine Science Center from the 4-H horse program at Evening of Science & Celebration on Nov. 9 in New Brunswick, N.J. Credits: Lillian Shupe
Members of the New Jersey 4-H Roundup team are honored at the Rutgers Equine Science Center's Evening of Science & Celebration on Nov. 9 at the Cook Campus Center in New Brunswick, N.J. Credits: Lillian Shupe
Warren County 4-H member, Brittany Smith gives her presentation at the Rutgers Equine Science Center's Evening of Science & Celebration” on Nov. 9 at the Cook Campus Center in New Brunswick, N.J. Credits: Lillian Shupe
Rutgers Equine Science Center's Evening of Science & Celebration was held on Nov. 9 at the Cook Campus Center in New Brunswick, N.J. Credits: Lillian Shupe

As the old saying goes, “There is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.”

But how do the outsides of a man, particularly a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder, affect the horse? That is the question, Karyn Malinowski, Ph.D., director of the Rutgers Equine Science Center, is seeking to answer.  She presented the results of a pilot study during the center’s “Evening of Science & Celebration” on Nov. 9 at the Cook Campus Center in New Brunswick, N.J.

Dr. Malinowski is a Professor of Animal Sciences, and the Founding Director of the Equine Science Center at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES), at Rutgers University. Her research and extension programs concentrate on improving the well-being and quality of life of the equine athlete while ensuring the vitality and viability of the equine industry, both statewide and nationally.

Sign Up for E-News

The study took place in April 2016 at Monmouth County Park System’s Sunnyside Equestrian Center. The five-day data collection trial used Equine Assisted Activities Therapy (EAAT) to measure the physiological indicators of stress and well-being in humans and horses. The sample collection was completed with a follow up standing control that was conducted using the same horses on June 5, 2016 without EAAT interaction taking place.

“The Effect of EAAT on the Well-Being of Horses, and Veterans Diagnosed with PTSD,” talk focused on preliminary findings that will be published later this year or early next spring.

In a partnership between The Rutgers University Equine Science Center, Special People United to Ride (SPUR), Sunnyside Recreation Area (a division of the Monmouth County Park System), Monmouth University, and the Lakewood Veterans Affairs, the study aimed to provide data on how EAAT affects the horses that are interacting with humans during therapy.

The veterans, six men and one woman, answered questions about their symptoms, before and after interacting with the horses. They did not ride the horses, they groomed, led, pet or merely spoke to the horses.

Heart rate, heart rate variability and levels of the hormones cortisol and oxytocin were measured in the horses to determine their stress levels, before, during and after the sessions.

The veterans indicated substantial reductions in their PTSD symptoms after interacting with the horses. They did not show significant physiological effects such as lowered blood pressure, but their heart rates did decrease.

The horses showed no significant changes in cortisol levels, indicating that the sessions were not stressful to them.

Oxytocin levels also showed no significant changes either, indicating the horses sense of well-being did not change because of the interaction with the veterans. Other studies have shown that when dogs and humans interact with each other, oxytocin levels increased in both. Oxytocin has anti-stress affects, such as reducing cortisol levels.

Dr. Malinowski concluded that more studies are warranted on the subject.

The evening also included an update on a study by Ph D. candidate Dylan Klein called “Fit as a Horse: Body Composition and Aerobic Capacity During Training and Detraining.” Results so far show that exercise increases oxygen uptake in both mares and geldings but once training was stopped, the geldings maintained their fitness better than the mares.

Several members of the New Jersey 4-H Roundup team which just returned from national competition were honored. Brittany Smith, of Warren County died her presentation on the history of the Triple Crown, which placed fifth at the Eastern National 4-H Roundup in Kentucky a few days earlier.

A check from the 4-H program was also presented to the Equine Science Center. The money was raised at the New Jersey State 4-H Horse Show in August.

Other awards presented were the Spirit of the Horse to Laurie Landy, founder of Special Strides Therapeutic Riding and the Gold Medal Horse Farm honor to Dorsett Arabians.

See more Equestrian news at

Find us on Facebook

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Berkeley Heights’ Women of the Week (WoW) Series features Beth Ferris Sale

March 18, 2018

In honor of the women who are driving change, blazing trails and nurturing society, the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council is pleased to announce an exciting initiative called, Women of the Week (WoW) Series. In the spirit of community, we wanted to honor the women right here in Berkeley Heights who are impacting the world in their own way for the remaining weeks of Women’s History ...

LinkedIn: It’s About Being Found: Presentation at Scotch Plains Library on April 9

March 24, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- ​In today's market, a LinkedIn profile is a "must have" for any professional or job seeker, as more than 90% of companies use LinkedIn to identify or vet a candidate. But just having a profile isn't enough.

On Monday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m., the Scotch Plains Public Library welcomes back Alex Freund, "The Landing Expert," for a presentation that ...

Siblings Host Dinner in Support of Our House

In the spirit of giving back, one family has made a difference in the lives of adults with developmental disabilities by hosting a dinner and silent auction at Sette restaurant in Bernardsville on March 17, 2018, raising $26,000 for the non-profit, Our House, Inc., of New Providence.

Philip and Maria Provenzano, of Nutley, and Angela Provenzano Schaub, of Westfield, organized the fundraising ...

Theater Project Presents: 'Leap of Faith'

The Theater Project will present a staged, script-in-hand reading of “Leap of Faith,” a new play by Stephanie Griffin, on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. in the Cranford Community Center (220 Walnut Ave.) "Leap of Faith" challenges the definition of motherhood as two sisters fight over custody of an eight-year old child. Ms. Griffin, a member of the Theater ...

Darkness To Light: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Summit Area YMCA is joining Ys across the country to increase awareness of how to recognize the signs and prevent child sexual abuse.

The YMCA has partnered with Darkness to Light to bring the Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention training to our communities. Our next training session will be held on Thursday 26th from 4:00PM - ...

Information on Parking and Traffic for Saturday's 'March for Our Lives' Event

March 23, 2018

UNION, NJ – It is anticipated that several hundred people or more will participate in the Union County March for Our Lives event on Saturday morning in Union.

Students, teachers, parents, clergy and public officials from all over Union County will be walking from Burnet Middle School to Town Hall in an anti-gun violence march.

Parking will be available in the following ...

Somerset County Freeholders Endorse Armed Security in all Somerset County Schools

March 23, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Following the Parkland, Fla school shooting last month in which 17 students and staff were killed, Somerset County Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione and Freeholder Mark Caliguire Thursday announced that the freeholder board will fund a second armed school resource officer at the county Vocational & Technical High School in Bridgewater, and urged every school ...

Upcoming Events


Sun, March 25, 8:00 AM

Scotch Hills Country Club, Scotch Plains

Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Club Pancake ...

Food & Drink Giving Back


Sun, March 25, 8:00 AM

Mount Carmel Hall, Berkeley Heights

Register for Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at ...

Food & Drink


Sun, March 25, 11:00 AM

Shackamaxon Country Club, Scotch Plains

Hear Our Voices: MemoryCare Plays

Health & Wellness


Sun, March 25, 2:00 PM

DeCorso Community Center, New Providence

Summit College Club/AAUW Hosts Program on Women ...

Education Giving Back

Sun, March 25, 7:00 PM

Temple Sholom, Scotch Plains

The Displaced Persons Camp Experience

Religions And Spirituality

Wed, March 28, 7:00 PM

Summit Free Public Library, Summit

Market research at your fingertips

Business & Finance Education

JCP&L Representative Describes Utility’s Actions During Storm Quinn, Answers Residents' Questions

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The format of this week’s  Berkeley Heights 'Here and Now' was turned on its head this week. Mayor Bob Woodruff reviewed what happened in the township following Storm Quinn and its predecessor Storm Riley, complete with statistics. He then asked a representative of JCP&L questions about the utility’s response, and how it was ...

Berkeley Heights, Here and Now: Redevelopment Updates

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Mayor's Round Table has been rebranded to "Berkeley Heights, Here and Now." This new format will continue to provide updates from Mayor Bob Woodruff, municipal offices and the Communications Committee want to hear from citizens, businesses and community organizations.

Included in this episode, Mayor Bob Woodruff addresses the status of the ...

Dear Susan: Beauty Tips from a Beauty Expert, Spring Edition

SUSAN BARBAGLIA, owner of Skin Deep Salon and Spa in New Providence, offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise as a leader in the beauty industry. With over thirty years experience in skin care, Susan can answer your most challenging beauty questions. Email your ...

You Want a Check for How Much!

 My first admissions gig was working for a small liberal arts college with a pretty hefty price tag.  Picture me at a college fair: name tag in place, pile of brochures ready to go.  An eager family would walk up and we’d start a conversation.  One of the first questions I’d get from parents was about cost and the moment that $50,000-plus figure left my mouth I ...

Getting Real About Retirement – Will You Have Enough Money to Remain Comfortable?

Let’s get real about retirement. Will you have enough to remain comfortable in retirement for 30 years or more?  Studies show this is a recurring fear many Americans have - and for good reason. Many Americans are completely unprepared to fund a comfortable retirement, and remain naive about the actual costs involved.  As a Fee-Only financial advisor, my number one priority is ...