In Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) the horses are co-facilitators in the learning process for human emotional growth, learning and change. The focus of EAL is not on horsemanship or riding. Instead, it involves intentionally designed activities with the horses that require individuals and groups to apply and develop important relationship and life skills.
Working with horses requires participants to make a connection – to form relationships based on trust, clear communication and understanding – much like working in an effective team. Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals living and “working” within a community – a herd. The main goal of the herd is to maintain balance and harmony. Just like members of any community or team, each horse has distinct roles and responsibilities and like humans, have different personalities, attitudes, and moods. Participants find that an approach that may work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another.
Changes in behaviour through the activities are real experiences. Clients are actively involved physically, psychologically and emotionally (doing, thinking and feeling). In this way, horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning as participants experience how their actions and responses can impact on their life, and understand where and how changes can be made. The learning is immediate and can be readily transferred to life experiences in different contexts. It is a powerful and effective approach that has a lasting impact on individuals and groups.