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What is Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)?

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

Equine Assisted Learning is a program that is supported by equines (horses). It's a learner-established, educational program that is facilitated within a group format and focuses on ground activities.

Equine Assisted Learning aids therapists, counsellors and psychiatrists. Available for schools, families and individuals and can be utilized by Mental Health Professionals.

Over the last few years, Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) has made its way into the headlines. It is being recognized as a unique learning experience and it is growing in leaps and bounds. Everyone that participates has the opportunity to discover their own answers on their own path. This is a great addition for therapists, counsellors and psychiatrists that are wanting to work with the horse to aid individuals in treatment.

Equine Assisted Learning encourages human development and promotes individual and group growth. Participants take part in objectively driven exercises and also find themselves learning valuable life skills in a fun and exciting atmosphere. Equine Assisted Learning is useful, positive, educational, and creative. The exercises facilitate life skills through positive interaction with horses. The horses’ job is to speak to the clients through their bodies to help bring about the changes the individuals need to make. Exercises are developed to encourage self-confidence and communication through validated, hands-on experiences. Participants are encouraged to find individual answers on their individual paths in their own lives and move forward with newly acquired skills where horses are the teachers.

Man working with black horse in an indoor riding arena.
The Equine Assisted Learning Program at Dustyridge Equine Center

How can a horse assist a person that is struggling in life?

In the book, Walking the Way of the Horse, author Leif Hallberg suggests that “horses do not appear to make judgments in the same manner that humans do, we consider them to be ‘non-judgmental’ and feel safe from ridicule while in their presence.” Participants create a bond with the horse which helps to build confidence, trust, and improve communication skills. These newly acquired skills can then be applied in the world of every day living.

EAL works in a way that individuals learn to recognize and manage emotions as they come up. When working with a horse and in EAL, the individual begins to engage in a relationship with the horse by interacting, connecting and accomplishing different tasks. The same triggers that often cause problems in life will be brought to the forefront in a session.

What life skills are worked on with the horses?

Do you try to control everything in your life; are you trying to control the horse? Are you easily frustrated with different situations that arise in life, if so, will you get frustrated with the horse and want to quit? Are you a person that has trouble respecting the personal space of others? Are you aware of the horse and the bubble that they have? Just as everyone has their individual struggles, every relationship and every session will look different. We all need to find and recognize the tools that we hold in ourselves to discover our paths in life. Horses can, and will make this journey unforgettable.

Works cited:

Walking The Way of The Horse By Leif Hallberg

#equineassistedlearning #ridinglessons

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