Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT)

What is Equine-Assisted Therapy?

Equine-Assisted Therapy is a creative, experiential and innovative approach to counselling, therapy and mental health that incorporates horses as assistants, co-facilitators and teachers in the therapeutic process. EAT can be used with individuals, couples and families and can assist clients with many things including:

  • Establishing and building on trust

  • Implementing boundaries

  • Identifying feelings, triggers, patterns and

       automatic behaviours

  • Increasing the ability to make appropriate choices

  • Improving self-confidence and self-esteem

  • Embodying respect

  • Developing strategies and tools for self-regulation

 

Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy

  • An increase in Self-awareness

  • An increased ability to stay grounded in the ‘here and now

  • Increased levels of trust

  • A reduction in anxiety

  • Fewer feelings of depression and isolation

  • Increased self-esteem, self-acceptance, and social skills

  • Improved impulse control

  • Increased problem-solving skills

  • Improved communication skills, including non-verbal

  • Improved emotional health and an increased sense of wellbeing

 

EAT is a non-confrontational therapy where the horses lead the way. The work is carried out in an outdoor arena with the horses at liberty, so they get to choose if they’d like to participate and how they will do so. Horses are very emotional creatures and connect emotionally with people. Unlike people, however, they demand very little from others, asking only that you are authentic and ‘present’.

 

Horses have no expectations and are incapable of judgment; that’s a relief for many people for whom the pressure of seeking approval has been a theme. EAT is an experiential journey. The emphasis is on assisting you to consciously embody as much of your experience as you can. The feedback from the horses is immediate and authentic, instantaneously communicating a true reflection of the moment. It is a powerful catalyst for change.

Why Horses?

 

Horses are beautiful, powerful, intelligent, strong animals. Many people are attracted to their size, their beauty and to their symbolic representation of freedom. Horses have no capacity to judge, they don’t care who you are, where you’re from or what you’ve done. They are forgiving creatures and don’t hold grudges. Being with healthy horses in a safe environment can evoke strong feelings and unconscious needs.

 

Many people report having feelings they haven’t had in many years. Others say they experience specific feelings or emotions for the first time. The size and power of the horse can be overwhelming for many, presenting a natural opportunity to notice fear/panic, intimidation/powerlessness, sadness/loss or anger/rage or, on the flip side, gentleness/tenderness, kindness/caring, affection/closeness, safety/trust.  

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The horse is just being a horse and as such is always grounded, self-aware, acutely connected to others in its environment. Horses are highly sensitive to body language and energy in motion = e-motion. Their evolution as a prey animal perfectly equips them to be present in the here and now and able to immediately reflect what is happening for others.

 

Their survival has depended on these skills, and these same skills can assist those who choose to let horses lead them towards greater personal autonomy, increased self-awareness and self-regulation, a deeper understanding of their thoughts, feelings, urges and behaviours and a desire for closeness, affection, connection and belonging. There are so many ways these wonderful animals can assist us on our human journey. These are just a few of the reasons why we ‘let horses lead’.

What does an EAT session look like?

Upon booking your EAT session, you will be sent a form to complete with some basic information about why you are coming along. Based on the information you give, an EAT session can play out in several ways. After our initial meet and greet, we will lead you through a body-awareness self-regulation exercise to prepare you for working with the horses and to help you to get the most out of your session.

 

After that, we will suggest a format that we feel suits your needs. These include: observing the horses in their natural environment; meeting and greeting the horses in their natural environment; grooming the horses; working with the herd or an individual in the arena; task-oriented work; leading the horses; working one-on-one with a horse in the training yard.

 

The session always leaves time to integrate the work we’ve done via feedback/Q&A and then we complete the session by showing gratitude to the horses in whatever way feels right for the client.