Equine Facilitated Learning
Equine Facilitated Learning
When Equine Facilitated Learning is used with children and teenagers, it focuses on helping kids learn about themselves, other people and their relationships with other people, and about their interaction with the world around them. It is known to be particularly effective for children who have attention deficit disorder and children with autism because it has a calming effect and it assists communication within an activity that children enjoy. When people participate in activities with horses, they gain a better understanding of themselves and how they react to others, which is emphasized in EAL by discussions following the equine assisted activities that focus on the participants’ feelings, patterns, and behaviors.
Horses act as a mirror to the children who are working with them by reacting immediately to their emotions and behavior. For example, a horse will become fearful when someone is noisy, yelling, aggressive, or overly controlling. They will back away, shake their heads, pin their ears back, and swish their tails. When a teenager learns to calmly request certain actions from the horse, the horse is only too happy to comply as they will naturally look up to a “pack” leader. By using these reactions, watching the social interaction of the herd, and examining the horse’s reactions, children learn about themselves and learn to communicate.
By participating in ground work activities such as leading a horse through a course, lunging (lunging a horse is the process where you stand while you have your horse lope, trot, or walk around you in a circle), grooming, saddling, a child experiences a sense of achievement that greatly boosts their confidence and self-esteem. These activities are very effective in getting children, teenagers, and kids with emotional problems to concentrate for extended periods of time, relate to another living being, and express themselves honestly. The techniques of Equine Assisted Learning frequently happen on the ground, so programs do not usually require previous experience with horses.
There are many reasons why horses are such effective teachers. Their ability to read emotional and environmental cues, subtle body language, and sensations help kids focus their attention, improve their concentration, maintain self-awareness, and practice being consistent. They assist kids in becoming aware of the effect their emotions and behavior have on others. They also help kids appreciate the positive aspects of being part of a group, such as family, friends, and classmates.
Because horses are social animals and live in herds, kids can learn about teamwork, family relationships, community relationships, leadership, and what is involved in living with others peacefully and successfully. Horses have a healing effect on kids, and they teach kids to respect all living beings. Kids learn how to communicate with horses by watching the horses’ behavior, which helps kids learn how to pick up cues from the people and groups in their lives. Equine Facilitated Learning is also effective because children and teenagers develop strong bonds with their horses, so they experience these lessons in an environment that they care deeply about and that does not make them feel threatened. Kids frequently love Equine Facilitated Learning sessions, and they often forget that they are participating in a learning experience. Equine Facilitated Learning is often the first time teenagers experience the joy of learning, which may not only impact the way they view learning, but also their whole perception of their lives and the world they live in.