Sarah Harding underwent horse therapy while she was in rehab.

The Girls Aloud singer - who visited American treatment facility Cottonwood in October to seek help for depression and alcoholism - opted for "equine assisted counselling" under the recommendation of doctors at the facility because contact with the creatures is believed to be "soothing".

An insider told the Daily Star newspaper: "Sarah was in real emotional pain when she checked into Cottonwood. She was so happy when she saw horse therapy on their programme of treatments.

"She's always loved horses and the place was the perfect way to get over all the agony."

The 30-year-old pop beauty - who called off her engagement to fiance Tom Crane after returning to the UK from rehab - explained one of the toughest parts of her experience in the facility was listening to "damage letters" written to her by loved ones about the impact her drinking had on them.

Sarah said in an interview with Britain's HELLO! magazine: "They don't let you see it before you read it out loud to the group so it's tough because you've got acceptance to deal with as well. My mum wrote one and I sobbed and sobbed when I read that. Tom wrote one too.

"My counsellor showed me photographs of me coming out of clubs totally hammered. I felt really ashamed. There was one picture I remember my mum telling me off about at the time - I was at the NME Awards, swigging out of a bottle of whisky. I don't even like whisky, but I was trying to maintain an image and it just spiralled."