What is Equine Assisted Learning?
Equine Assisted Learning can be used as an alternative provision for children and young people that are finding mainstream schooling difficult to access and are at risk of exclusion. This experiential way of learning, learning through reflection on doing, provides opportunities for students to engage in situations that require interaction with the horse and facilitator to encourage the development of new skills that can be applied to other life situations.
Horses are sensitive prey animals. Their survival depends on their ability to sense any disturbance in their environment. Herd safety requires continual communication among herd members. Everything in the environment is monitored for appropriate responses such as fight, flight, freeze or return to grazing. When you engage with a horse you are part of the environment, and ultimately you become a herd member.
Horses react to stimuli and provide a skilled facilitator with an opportunity to use the horse as a barometer. Due to their intuitive nature, horses can provide facilitators with a window into the student's nature. Through the discovery of how sensitive horses are and how non-judgemental and forgiving they can be, we can guide learners to rethink the way they interact with others through identifying specific horse behaviours.