Horses teach us a lot. They teach us how to be confident and how to be patient. They teach us the value of hard work and the importance of being clear in communicating what we want. They also teach us empathy and how to care for another living being. And when we’re on their backs, they teach us what it feels like to fly, to be powerful, and to be faster than we could ever be on our own two feet.
But there are people who are using horses to teach other lessons, too. Equine assisted learning is a practice which is quickly gaining popularity here in the United States. Unlike therapeutic riding, equine assisted learning generally takes place on the ground without any riding involved. Anyone can participate, and everyone tends to get something different out of a session or class.
According to Horses Teaching and Healing, equine assisted learning centers around the idea of experiential learning. A facilitator is on hand to guide the session as a person interacts with a horse on the ground. The person is usually given a task like to put a halter on the horse or to get the horse to follow them through an obstacle. Then, the person learns by doing. Group classes are also offered, and equine assisted learning can be a great team building activity, too.
What makes equine assisted learning so effective is that horses provide honest, real-time feedback. They aren’t influenced by the fear of offending us, and they’re not worried about our feelings. Horses reflect back to us the messages that we’re giving off to them. If we approach a horse aggressively, they’ll quickly move away out of fear. If we approach more quietly, they’ll give us a more welcome approach.
Equine assisted learning participants can make discoveries about themselves based on how the horses react. It’s a great way to learn self-control, body language, and overall communication. Horses are excellent teachers, and we continue to learn about the many ways that they can help us.