Equine Assisted Learning incorporates the use of horses experientially to encourage growth and learning. All activities are done on the ground i.e. there is no riding involved. All horses used are mature and well established. Through the use of facilitated activities tailor-made for each specific group, participants can learn about themselves and others and then later work on processing or discussing their findings.
We work through a programme of activities with the participants that encourage them to become aware of their body language, energy levels and behaviour simply by becoming aware of how the horses react to them. The results are naturally evolving. Cause and effect situations are created and the horses give immediate feedback, which is interpreted by the facilitators. The focus is on the horses so participants are less conscious of their own actions and so the process flows freely. We draw metaphors for life from the feedback the horses give. There is no pressure on participants and they can choose how much of the horses’ feedback applies to them.
The EAL team is made up of two facilitators, the horses, and the participants. One of the facilitators is the Equine specialist; their main focus is on the horses. The other facilitator is a Mental Health specialist and their focus is on the participants.
In Piper’s Hill College, we are enhancing student Wellbeing, through Equine Assisted Learning, in the SPHE course. This weeks topic was communication skills and the class was 1 Erne.
This is a Collaborative Community Equine Education Project. Ballymore Land Ltd have facilitated and supported the process by allowing us the use of a paddock that can be accessed from the school. It couldn’t have been done without Don and Liam in Ballymore.