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developing a sense of well-being through work with horses
The horses we work with are not specially trained for this work. They are selected because of their temperaments and because we know that all of them are used to being in the company of humans as well as handled by them. When not working with us the horses enjoy life in their herd, going out for rides and taking part in a number of equestrian events.
All our facilitators are trained in the approach developed during the late 1990s by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). This way of working, which is ground based and centred on a team (that includes the horses), has a strong ethical code that ensures the well-being of all participants.
Horses and humans have a millennia long history of co-habitation and working together. For humans, the size of a horse allows immediate opportunities to overcome fear and develop confidence. Perhaps more importantly, horses are very much like humans in living within social groups with hierarchies and defined roles. As animals that need to protect themselves against predation, they are sensitive to non-verbal cues. So, they respond to what humans do, with or without intent. This response gives us information that can bring to awareness current patterns of being and open the opportunity for change.
Central to the way we work is the team approach. At the heart of the team are the horses (sometimes called the 4-leggers), with the work being facilitated by a mental health professional and a horse specialist (sometimes called the 2 leggers). As in a herd, team members have their own roles that contribute equally to the overall experience and learning.