Working with horses in a therapeutic setting leads to increased physiological, emotional, and psychological well-being including an increase in self-esteem, self-awareness, empathy, focus, communication skills, and pro-social behaviours; and reduction in stress/anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviours, and trauma symptoms.
Because horses are herbivore prey animals with lots of predators, they have evolved to have extremely effective communication skills within their herd to enable them to survive. They are finely tuned to even the most subtle changes in the body language and emotions of other horses and of the people around them.
They want to be around, and to please, those who display calm, quiet, controlled, slow, confident and kind behaviours and they will distance themselves from, and be uncooperative with, those who are agitated, loud, unpredictable, quick and aggressive in their approach. They respond instantly and provide immediate, unbiased and non-judgemental feedback to participants.
Our uniquely tailored programs teach children to be wholly present in the moment and attentive to how the horse is responding. They learn not only about horses but about themselves – how their brain works, how it can be re-wired to form new pathways to better manage emotions and behaviours through neuroplasticity, strategies for understanding and controlling emotions, the difference between aggression and assertiveness and the appropriate use of power.
The children develop not just improvements in self-esteem and self-confidence, but they learn how to self-regulate, taking control of their emotions and behaviours.
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a person ~ Winston Churchill
Unloved, neglected, uncertain, fragile, weak, frightened and withdrawn is how a rescue horse appears at the start of the rehabilitation process – which is very much how many of the children see themselves.
Horses and ponies are highly resilient. Their stoicism in the face of trauma and their growing willingness to trust again and accept help make them incredibly powerful teachers.
Throughout the rehabilitation process, the children are able to see the horses grow in confidence and strength, find friends and assume their rightful place in the herd (community).
The children learn that what has happened in the past does not have to define what happens in the future.
Being part of the process that allows the horses to regain their health, dignity, courage and love of life is enormously empowering for the children. The lessons that the children learn from being part of this process are many and their results immeasurable.