What can a horse do for YOU?
Can a horse help you learn about yourself, about your relationship with others, about behavioral patterns that you keep repeating in your life?
Can a horse help you focus on your goals? Learn about your decision-making style? Become more aware of everything around you?
Can a horse teach you how to be “on your game?” Be a better communicator, leader, or a better team-player with colleagues at work or with team mates on a sports team?
Yes! A horse can do all these things and more...while looking you right in the eye! That's right! All of our therapeutic work occurs on the ground and, most of the time, with horses "at liberty," that is, free to come and go as they please.
Equine-assisted learning is what it is called. It is a learning experience in which you engage in activities with a horse, while being coached or guided by a psychologist and a horse specialist. This team will help you find answers for questions you have about yourself and the everyday life challenges you face. You can focus on learning patience, building problem-solving skills, or improving self-confidence. Groups and organizations might focus on conflict-resolution, team-building or leadership. Once again, there is no riding involved, and you do not have to know anything at all about horses.
Horses are also used for equine-assisted psychotherapy. In these programs, horses are incorporated into mental health treatment for individuals, couples, or families. With the help of a licensed psychologist and a horse specialist, issues such as depression, anxiety, traumatization, anger, bereavement, and social/relationship problems can be addressed. Equine-assisted psychotherapy offers a unique opportunity to work on problems through activities in the arena with a horse, and then learn how to apply the insights to real life. Sessions can also be in the form of a consultation or an adjunct to traditional psychotherapy. Appropriate populations include: individuals with autism, at-risk youth, veterans, and survivors of trauma, sexual abuse, or domestic violence.
What both of these programs have in common is that a horse is an integral part of the experience. We sometimes use cows also. Both horses and cows are especially helpful because they are animals of prey and, consequently, are supremely sensitive to their environment. They are willing to interact with humans and can come to trust and respect those with whom they interact. They offer immediate, accurate, unbiased feedback when you engage them. Since they are not judgmental, most folks feel pretty good about themselves when around them.
And in addition to being so helpful in all these ways, horses are, simply put, fascinating animals. They act naturally, with no airs or pretenses. You don’t have to impress them. They don’t mind walking in mud or standing in the rain. They can sleep standing up, and they always tell you the truth.
So where do you find a place that offers these equine experiences?
Meet some of our therapy horses, part of the largest herd of Florida Cracker horses in the world.