(CNN) Beasts of burden, winners of wars and beloved as the sport of Kings — now horses are being used to cure the ills of modern life.

From the time ancient Egyptians worshiped feline deities, animals have been viewed as a source of strength and healing.

Renowned psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believed dogs helped his patients relax during sessions, while the Soviets used dolphins to treat people with mental health disorders in the 1980s.

Today, rabbits, guinea pigs and even the humble gold fish are used to promote a sense of responsibility and wellbeing everywhere from the classroom to the retirement home.

And an increasing number of mental health patients are turning to horses as a legitimate form of therapy — claiming impressive results where traditional counseling has failed.

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