What Is Equine Assisted Learning?

Equine Assisted Learning facilitator Jackie Smith explains the many benefits of the therapy seen to powerful effect on The Biggest Loser: Transformed.

Horses and humans have lived alongside each other throughout history. They are sentient beings with innate skills that have supported them to live effectively in social groups (herds) and survive and thrive for millions of years. As horses live entirely in the present (i.e.: not thinking about the past or the future) and through their whole of body/senses they offer us the opportunity to learn how to be more present and aware of others and develop our social, emotional intelligence and leadership skills.

Traditionally adopted for therapeutic purposes for trauma victims, autistic children, and to address mental health issues, it is now understood that Equine Assisted Learning can offer profound and sustainable learning for personal and professional development objectives.

In an Equine Assisted Learning workshop, as you step into relationship with the horses and begin to experiment with non-verbal forms of communication and leadership styles you will receive authentic feedback from the horse in a non-judgmental and very transparent way. 

For anyone interested in personal or professional development, this can be an important opportunity to consider “how am I experienced in the eyes of the other?”

Some of the specific life skills you can learn about in an Equine Assisted Learning workshop include: 

Self-Awareness:  Horses are responsive to energy and body language and will respond to each person uniquely. This supports self-awareness and personal insight.

Mindfulness & Stress Management:  Horses model the skills of living fully in the present moment, awareness and connection to body and senses. Understanding more about how our brain and bodies function when under stress can support us to move to a place of greater calmness and clarity.

Communication & Relationship Skills:  Horses offer non-judgmental and authentic feedback about how we relate and communicate to others. We can practice skills of deep listening, tuning into the other person’s reactions, making clear and confident requests.

Leadership:  Learn and apply non-predatory leadership models based on mutual respect and trust and inspiring others to meet goals.

Equine Assisted Learning workshops are not theoretical. Participants learn through doing and through being in relationship. Lessons learnt in this way will be more sustainable and can be more easily applied to the world of human-human relationships.