Why working with horses is so powerful
Horses are adept at picking up and responding to human intention and non-verbal communication. They sense and respond to subtle cues in our behaviour and therefore provide instant, honest and accurate feedback in the moment – creating experiences which get to the core of issues quickly, powerfully and effectively.
Real-play, not role-play
When we role-play it can be hard to behave authentically in what is clearly not a ‘real-life’ situation. Horses are authentic beings and interacting with them is for real. A horse has a choice in how it responds; this gives participants the opportunity to test how well they create trust and connection.
Instant, honest feedback
Horses are imposing creatures, each weighing around half a ton. Their size and physical presence magnifies the feedback they provide. Our programmes will take participants out of their comfort zone and will challenge them in unique ways; all in an environment where it is safe to experiment with different approaches.
Demonstrate real leadership and horses will cooperate and follow; but they do not judge when we fail to lead. Honest feedback without judgment is a rare commodity, one that brings deep insight to workshop participants.
People often run agendas for others, particularly in the workplace. Horses do not ask us to change – but they do let us know very clearly whether our behaviours are achieving our desired outcomes. Participants will receive feedback in a way that creates personal accountability.
Participants find that when they connect with their authentic selves and communicate from that place, horses are amazingly responsive. When the (human’s) thinking, judging brain comes into play, horses respond by disengaging from the interaction. This enables participants to develop an authentic leadership style.
Peer to peer coaching
The format includes peer-to-peer coaching which enables deeper reflection and collaborative problem solving. This strengthens understanding and therefore relationships within the group. This approach provides a real-life situation in which participants can practise their coaching and feedback skills.
Both the equine and classroom elements create the opportunity for working in groups to reflect upon and improve performance. Participants work deeply and vulnerably with one another, building trust and strengthening the bond between them.
What is Equine Facilitated Learning?
EFL is a combination of interactions with horses (on the ground not ridden) and non-directive coaching in powerful learning experiences. Participants are encouraged to closely observe and interact with the horse, in order to understand and challenge their own assumptions and habits. Interacting with horses at liberty (not on lead ropes) demands the same qualities as effective leadership, creating memorable ‘aha’ moments of insight about your leadership and personal style.
There is a gap between theory and practice; between awareness and action; between what we know and what we do. We move from knowing to doing when changes take place at a deep neurological level – through insights (‘aha’ moments) which create complex new neurological connections.
Horses provide instant non-judgmental feedback on ‘how you show up’ holding up a mirror to your behaviour and impact and resulting in rapid personal and team development. It is a safe environment to explore different ways of leading. Changes made are reflected back instantly in a dramatic and memorable way by the response of the horses. It is a unique way to gain deeper self-awareness of the unconscious patterns that drive behaviour and impact, creating choice about ‘how’ and ‘who’ you want to be.
What Equine Facilitated Learning is not
We are not therapists. Equine Assisted Therapy is different because it addresses specific mental and physical health issues and should always be run by qualified therapists. Equine Assisted therapy can be used as a powerful tool for treatment of attention deficit disorder, substance abuse issues, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and low self-esteem. Interacting with horses — dynamic and inspiring living beings — adds metaphoric and reflective strength to conventional therapy, and creates a non-threatening environment for revealing and accepting the authentic self.