Working with horses, helps us explore our own minds. Horses cannot cope with our stress. If we approach the horse thinking about our bills on the fridge, pressure at work or at home they will sense the anxiety or tension and will tend to try to stay out of our way. So, to have any success, before we go anywhere near a horse, we need to do a self-assessment. How relaxed am I really? If a person approaches a horse in an angry, aggressive state of mind, the horse will rely on its instincts to flee as it senses the danger. If a person approaches a horse in a depressed state of mind, the horse is more likely to react positively and become curious because the horse no longer feels threatened. This is the perfect place to start the bonding process between human and horse. Most horses have some kind of issue or problem of their own that needs attention. Generally, dealing with a horse issue or problem is simpler and less complex than dealing with human issues. When we learn to understand horses, we can use techniques to work through their issues with them. While working with the horse and their problems our own barriers begin to fall as we then gain the horse’s trust as we help him through things that are scary for him. As this bond is created, it makes it clear to us, that the problems are similar and that if we take steps to simplify our problems, as we have for the horse, we can create our own solutions. The therapeutic benefits are endless. Equine Acceptance Therapy has been proven to, promote and enhance a stable, healthy lifestyle, particularly physical activity and mental wellbeing. It may also,
Reduce social isolation,
Encourage involvement in social activities by building social skills,
Build confidence, trust and learn boundaries,
Learn effective communication skills,
Self-awareness and self-acceptance
Learn acceptance of the things we can not change and focus on the things we can change.
According to Dr. Laurie Sullivan-Sakeada, a Utah based Clinical Psychologist and leading practitioner of EAP, horses are prey animals, and, like those who have been to war, rely on their heightened senses for survival. They react to and mirror the emotions of visitors directly, without words. Horses respond negatively to negative emotions. They respond positively to positive emotions, and they have no ulterior motives. “They are just there,” says Sakeada, “providing non-verbal feedback.” The horses are therapeutic and interactive tools that speed up the therapy process substantially. Dr. Sakeada notes that one session of EAP in the barn is equal to five sessions “on the couch.”
550kg of Lie Detector: You cannot lie to a horse or hide your true feelings. The horse’s body language, such as flicking ears, wide eyes, or a dropped shoulder will provide feedback for the therapist and the veteran/client.
Equine Acceptance Therapy, for Emotional Healing,
In Equine Acceptance Therapy, horses are partnered with military veterans to help them gain self-understanding and emotional growth. It recognizes the bond between animals and humans and the potential for emotional healing that can occur when a relationship is formed between the two species. In most cases, the horses are not ridden, and usually are not tethered in the arena, but allowed to roam free. Exercises can be as simple as giving the client a halter, and letting them figure out how to approach the horse and put it on. Other benefits may be,
So Why Horses? Horses also possess a variety of “herd dynamics” “pecking order” such as pushing, kicking, biting, squealing, grooming one another and grazing together. In the process of describing the interactions between horses, individuals can learn about themselves and their own family dynamics.