WHAT IS EQUINE ASSISTED LEARNING?
To put it simply, Equine Assisted Learning is a learner based educational, experiential program that is facilitated within a group format and focuses on ground activities rather than horseback riding. More specifically, Equine Assisted Learning is a horse course with an effective approach to human development that encourages individual and team growth. Participants engage in objectively driven exercises and find themselves learning valuable life skills in a fun and exciting atmosphere. Equine Assisted Learning has proven to be useful, powerful, positive, educational, and creative. Wild Heart Connection's program emphasises a curriculum of 8-12 weeks, as well as one-day workshops and events and includes objectively-driven exercises of facilitating life skills through positively reinforced interaction with horses. The horse's jobs are speaking to the clients through their bodies to help bring about the changes that the clients need to make. Exercises are developed to encourage self-confidence through validated, hands-on experiences. Equine Assisted Learning through Wild Heart Connection is not equine therapy even though we know that therapy exists whenever we are near horses. We do not require a clinical professional with us to do these exercises and programs. The participants are empowered to find solutions to their lives and move forward with newly acquired skills. Equine Assisted Learning works, because the teachers are the horses!
WHY DO WE WORK WITH HORSES?
Equine Assisted Learning programs are a powerful journey of learning and understanding for those who participate. Horses in this program are effective teaching tools; immediately responding to what participants do, trained facilitators look for "teachable moments" that horses identify. Quite simply, the horse does the teaching; facilitators are there to offer an explanation and provide guidance as they work through the solution. The single most asked question is, why do we work with horses? To understand how this process works we must first realise how horses learn and understand the laws of survival. In a horse’s world, the rules are clear, easy to understand and dealt with swiftly when challenged.
Nature provides them with instincts and senses that are very astute. For their mere survival, a wild horse must be aware of their surroundings and quick to react. Horses are tough and steadfast dance partners; they don’t judge, but they don’t forget. They can read people hiding behind a facade and their feedback is honest. By including horses in specially designed educational experiences, equine-assisted specialists have significantly multiplied the participant’s rate of success to self-discovery. Through their intuitive nature and innate sensitivity, horses can provide facilitators with a window into the participant’s learning style.
By understanding why and how horses are aware of our every movement – you will come to know how effective equine assisted learning programs are to finding success. As a prey animal, they are sensitive to the stimulus of each participant. They react to the stimulus through body language and participants must adjust their feelings and behaviours to work successfully with the horses. As facilitators listen to a horse’s non-verbal communication, together, they have the ability to walk participants through to finding life-altering change.
They have extremely astute senses and with this heightened sensitivity are acutely aware of their surroundings. They react to the smallest stimuli in a very recognisable way.
INSTANT & HONEST FEEDBACK
There is no judgment in a horse’s reaction. They simply react in an authentic way to whatever stimulus is present around them. This lack of judgment can help participants digest feedback in a more meaningful way.
They can differentiate between unsure or threatening behaviour and calm assertiveness. Participants learn to adjust their behaviour and actions in order to work successfully with their horses through each of our activities. Participants have to step up. If a horse doesn’t have a leader, they will become the leader.
RESULTS EVERY TIME
The sheer size and presence of a horse adds a dimension to the group that can not be delivered in a school, or office environment. If you aren't being pushed out of your comfort zone, you aren't learning. This is an opportunity to overcome fears or preconceived notions. Their input ensures objectives are reached and makes this program a truly memorable experience.
HOW DOES THIS PROCESS WORK?
Horses can magnify an individual’s problem immediately and provide a skilled facilitator with an opportunity to identify an individual’s character and their communication style. Horses don’t overthink a participant’s motive, but horses do challenge their behaviour and leadership. Horses in this program are effective teaching tools; immediately responding to stimulus from the participants, while trained facilitators look for "teachable moments" that horses identify.
The people build skills while listening to what the horses tell them they need to say or do to move forward, not only in the program but in their lives. The people solve their problems because they have the answers inside - they just need help from the horse to find those solutions. Our horse course is not a bandage effect for humans; it's life changing with proven results.
Albert Wight studied methods of education extensively and concluded a need for change from the traditional classroom and lecture format to an educational alternative called "participative method", which focuses on the experiential process of learning rather than the mere transmission of information. Experiential learning has recently been termed "the natural way of learning" and defined as the process by which the experience of the learner is reflected upon, from which new insights emerge.
Horses have a lot to teach us, but they are also a lot like us. Herds to horses are just like teams to people. Horses require a leader that they trust and respect, just like we would love to have in the workplace, in school and in our everyday lives. These parallels give us the ability to parallel everything that happens back to real life, so that what is learnt really sticks!