Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning
What is it all about
Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning is not about the horse, it’s
about the person.
There is no mounted work or horsemanship involved and you do not
need any experience with horses what so ever.
Sessions are based on experiential learning and require
participation from the client or group. The activities will include the use of non verbal
communication, creative thinking, problem solving, leadership and team work to name but a
few. The horses provide the experience and learning that will help the participant to realise
and discover their own solutions. The focus is not about the goal that has been set in the
sessions, it’s about the learning on the journey that is taken.
Therapy or team building sessions are based on individual needs and
numbers within the group, the horses are selected by our equine specialist and the focus of
the session is identified by our Mental Health professional (for example; control issues,
lack of self confidence or addiction) together they agree on the session exercises which are
Depending on the size of the group, sessions with the horses can
last between 30 minutes and an hour.
…and it doesn’t end there! The experience and learning that
participants undertake has a lasting effect and the participant may find themselves
reflecting on their thoughts and the process for a number of days, their learning can then be
brought to the next session and the process begins again.
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Why horses ?
Horses are dynamic, kind, extremely sensitive and powerful beings.
They are a herd animal and are naturally inquisitive. Within their herd they have a hierarchy
and each horse knows their place in the group. Like us, they enjoy each other’s company and
can feel vulnerable and frightened if they feel alone.
Although they are a prey animal, their size, presence and power
makes them naturally intimidating to us tiny humans! Some humans are more feared by horses
than others which provides for opportunities to overcome fears and instil confidence and a
feeling of achievement. This in itself can metaphorically be transferred to real life
situations for some people.
Horses provide us with a vast number of metaphors we can use in
learning, like us they enjoy having fun, like us they can seem defiant and stubborn and like
us they have preferences and make choices. If a horse doesn’t want to walk in a particular
direction, it won’t! Using metaphors can be very effective during sessions and frequently
clients will label the horse as someone they relate to in their
Horses have been accustomed to humans for centuries and are
hyper-sensitive to our non-verbal communication. Considering a human’s communication is about
90% non verbal, it’s fair to suggest that horses understand us better than we understand
ourselves! A horse will always respond to a human’s non-verbal communication in an honest
way, a horse cannot try to be nice to you, be two-faced or lie to you – the feedback you
receive is 100% genuine, how you interpret that is up to you!!!
A horse will respond to a human in the moment, if a person gives a
message of a particular feeling to the horse, it will mirror that feeling in its behaviour or
response. As a result the message to the client may be about how they make other people feel
in their lives and provides an opportunity to the client to become conscious of any problems
and really consider solutions.