There is a beauty and mystery to the horse....
For centuries they have been with us, working beside us as we evolve and build civilizations.
They inspire our imaginations and evoke a feeling of untamed desire within us. They are beautiful, strong and live in the moment.
Only recently have we begun to explore a new relationship with them. More than just our riding companions, they are now becoming our teachers.
What is Equine Assisted Learning?
Equine Assisted Learning (or EAL) is the experience of interacting with horses to facilitate personal growth or learning. In EAL clients are given the opportunity to work with particular learning goals. These goals may include communication, leadership skills, life skills, team building and developing awareness.
EAL is not the same as Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (or EAP). In EAL there is no focus or work on trauma, family of origin or psychological dynamics. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is facilitated by a registered Psychotherapist or Mental Health Worker.
EAL is not for you if:
You are looking for lessons in horsemanship
You want help training your own horse
You want to learn to ride a horse
You are after a Physical Therapy (or Hippotherapy)
You want to work with a Psychotherapist
Within my own EAL practice the focus is on building Awareness and Embodiment. All work is done on the ground, so no riding or horse experience is required.
The Equine Psychotherapy Institute Model.
While Equine Therapies have been around in different forms since the 1960's.
The Equine Psychotherapy Institute (EPI) model was created by Psychotherapist, Mental Health social worker and Equine Psychotherapist Meg Kirby (BA, MASW, Dip Gestalt Therapy).
The EPI Model is a psychotherapy based model with teachings drawing on Gestalt Therapy, Somatic Experiencing and Neuroscience based Trauma practice, Buddhist Psychotherapy and I:Thou Horsemanship.
What I love most about this model is how respectful it is to both the client and the horse. The horse is a co-coach and teacher with needs of their own.
Horses are social, playful herd animals with a particular social structure. They are naturally oriented towards relationships and connection and in turn offer us a way of being authentic in relationships of our own. Horses live in the present moment with awareness. They have honest and healthy relationships with each other.
Horses are prey animals, and because of this they have naturally sensitive and heightened awareness. They communicate with each other non-verbally through body expressions and energy exchanges.
They experience, then respond.
Horses model healthy relationships and ways of being. They are grounded and present. Their authentic and non-judgmental presence creates an amazing space from which to explore our authentic selves.
They are therefore able to give us unique feedback about what we’re bringing to the relationship we share with them. If we try something different, then a horse responds accordingly.
Through this feedback we can tap into and develop awareness of our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Horses are play animals and like to explore their surroundings ( and us!).
Horses can help to provide a place of emotional safety and trust.
They model healthy functioning.
They offer unique feedback.
They evoke emotion in us.
They want to play with you.