Equine Assisted Learning: An Emerging Practice
By now, you’ve probably heard of therapeutic riding. It’s true that therapeutic riding offers participants many great benefits, but have you heard of equine assisted learning? Equine assisted learning is an emerging practice which continues to gain popularity. Interested? Here’s a bit of information on it.
Equine assisted learning uses the presence of horses to help people learn. Unlike therapeutic riding, which focuses on helping people with disabilities (physical or mental), equine assisted learning is geared toward anyone who wants to participate. Even riders can learn from equine assisted learning. It’s also popular for soldiers suffering from PTSD, for bringing work groups closer together, and even for helping families learn to better communicate.
During an equine assisted learning session, a person works with a horse, but doesn’t necessarily ride. Most of equine assisted learning is done unmounted, and an instructor gives a person a particular situation or challenge. The challenge may be as simple as to approach a loose horse and put a halter on, or it can be something such as getting a horse from one end of the arena to the other without touching the horse. There are endless ways that the session can be conducted.
As a person works with a horse, they start to make discoveries about themselves in the process. Horses provide real-time feedback about our attitudes, emotions, and body language that we may not even be aware of. It is this instant feedback that makes equine assisted learning such a powerful tool. Participants can’t ignore what a horse is saying to them, and they’ll find that as they start to make adjustments, they get better results from the horse.
So what lessons can equine assisted learning help teach? They’re countless. A session can teach people about confidence, self-esteem, trust, aggression, patience, body language, and more.
If you would like to give equine assisted learning a try, you can find a list of centers offering therapeutic riding and equine assisted learning on this website. Be sure that the center you choose is experienced so that your introduction to this practice will be a positive one.