Into the Elements
Horses & Healing
Equine Assisted Learning
Equine Assisted Learning is a learner-based educational experience where the horses are the teachers. It focuses on our relationship with and understanding of the horses, and on ensuring that we are allowing them to teach us. The process of doing this work encourages growth, both individually and within relationships/teams. It is an effective approach to personal development that takes participants on a powerful journey of learning and self discovery.
The designer of these programs took the current research on how human beings learn, and the research that’s been done on wild horses and combined them to create these programs to help human beings realize the changes that they need to make within themselves. Exercises are developed to encourage self-confidence through validated, hands-on experiences and positively reinforced interaction with the horses. It has been proven that when learners are actively involved, with their senses engaged, there is an increase in the likelihood of new learning being retained and taken into everyday life.
Equine Assisted Learning has proven to be a dynamic, educational, and creative horse program which emphasizes the BuildingBlock™ style of facilitation. These curriculums are a process where each program has an objective, yet all objectives are built into each program. We work with one solid objective at a time and keep building on these skills each week, hence the BuildingBlock™ curriculum - building valuable skills for life.
All of this happens without venturing into Equine Therapy. EAL facilitators are not therapists, counsellors or medical professionals, instead we are trained to step in during 'teachable moments' that the horses communicate, to help participants come to their own decisions and work from where they are in the present moment. From there they can move forward with their lives, using their newly acquired life skills to tap into their potential.
This work does not result in a bandage effect for humans. It's life changing, with proven results shown in a 5-year research study done by the University of Calgary, Saskatoon and Regina, and it is Internationally Certified and regulated through the EAL Network.
Equine Assisted Learning works because it's not the people that are the teachers, it's the horses!
Horses + Objective based-Exercises
+ Effective Facilitation + Experiential Learning
= Positive Change
Horses are amazing Life Skills teachers...
Aside from the facts that they are beautiful, awe-inspiring creatures, horses make tough and stead fast partners.
They consistently react to stimulus provided by each of the participants, giving us instant and honest feedback. Horses can't lie and don't judge us, but instead assess our behaviours, movements and congruency, interacting with us based on how we are interacting with them, on a moment by moment basis.
Learning to listen to what horses have to say is powerful and can sometimes spur the answer to individual change. By including horses in specially designed educational exercises, participants' rate of successful self discovery is greatly multiplied. By understanding why and how horses are aware of our every movement, we come to see how effective Equine Assisted Learning programs are to helping individuals find themselves.
So how does it work?
Horses have an intuitive nature, and are innately sensitive. They thrive within their extremely social herd structures by reading each other's cues and adapting accordingly. As prey animals they are tuned in to the slightest and subtlest shifts. The speed at which a change in the feeling of a herd can happen seems almost like magic, but in reality something as simple as an increase in heart rate in one herd member can set the entire herd on alert, allowing for rapid flight or other defensive measures to happen instantly if necessary.
We've all experienced walking into a room with someone who is feeling a strong emotion - anger, despair, excitement - and know that something changes within us as well. Whether we tense up, prepared to defend ourselves, or suddenly feel happier and more excited, we can feel the energy another person is projecting and it impacts us. This natural gift is greatly heightened for horses and as we enter their space, they tune in to us just as strongly as they do with each other, so we can imagine what they know about the real, raw people we are. They can hear our heartbeats, notice if we are out of alignment within ourselves, and feel if what we are presenting to the world doesn't match what is happening internally. Because of these abilities, horses provide a window into participants personality/character that another person might miss. So while they can't over think participants' motives, horses will challenge us. They look for us to show consistent behaviour and strong leadership, and when we accomplish that, we can build relationships based on trust and respect.
Horses react to stimulus through body language, letting us know how effectively we are communicating, and when we must adjust our feelings and behaviours to work with them successfully. As facilitators listen to horses non-verbal communication, we can help walk participants through to finding life-altering change.
~ Provide insight into group dynamics
~ Enhance problem-solving skills
~ Increase appreciation of other team members
~ Promote patience while considering the needs and views of others
~ Empower individuals to build confidence & self-esteem
~ Challenge participants in a nonjudgmental way
~ Develop personal work ethics, responsibility & appropriate assertiveness
~ Increase appreciation for differences and diversity
~ Develop abilities to be smart risk-takers and fair-minded team players
~ Improve decision-making skills
~ Provide opportunities to immediately practice new skills
Check out our Galleries and Horsemanship & Equine Assisted Learning FAQs!