What is Equine-Facilitated Learning?
“the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Experiential Learning with Horses
Equine-Facilitated Learning (EFL) is an unmounted experiential learning program that facilitates meaningful interactions with horses. The programs of Equi Evolution focus on improving emotional health and overall wellness. We provide tools to help you navigate life in a joyful way. Participants work directly with our horses, learning effective skills to achieve mindfulness and improve self-esteem, communication, and relationship development. Our coaching programs have been shown to help:
Reduce anxiety & depression
Boost confidence & self-esteem
Cope with trauma & grief
Develop effective communication skills
Establish healthy boundaries
Facilitate relationship development
A mental health diagnosis or former experience with horses are not required to participate in our programs.
*Equine-facilitated learning is not therapy; however, it can greatly improve symptoms of common mental health disorders. If you are currently seeing a traditional talk therapist or doctor our practitioners are happy to collaborate with them to offer you the most support possible.
The core principles of the Equi Evolution program come from a variety of internationally recognized organizations and modalities. Our practitioners are certified through The HERD Institute, which holds strong standards of acceptance and compassion in terms of both human and equine interaction and care.
We also base many of our activities on the concepts of MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) and MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) which place emphasis on the value of being able to effectively achieve mindfulness to maintain balance and wellness. As well as Gestalt psychology, which respects the personal experiences and interpretations of each individual.
Click the icons for more information about these organizations, as well as some of the newest evidence supporting the effectiveness of equine-facilitated programs.
Get off my Back
One of the biggest surprises (and hardest selling points) about the Equi Evolution programs is that all of our work is unmounted. This means that there is no ridding involved.
But what do you even do if you don't ride? What's the point? Isn't that what horses are meant for?
Of course, we understand the pushback...but there is so much more to a horse than what they can do when we're on their backs. Working with horses on the ground gives us the opportunity to experience Learning, Understanding, and Value in unique and beautiful ways...so much L.U.V.
Learning: Horses are herd animals. Like humans, social relationships are important to their overall wellness. Much like our own relationships, the connections between horses are dynamic and can be influenced by a wide variety of factors: history, environment, age, gender, etc. When we work with horses on the ground we become a part of the herd. We learn about each horse on a very personal level and can see how our own actions, energy, and approach impact the ways in which they allow us to work with them. These interactions offer an enormous amount of opportunity for us to reflect on how our interactions with the world around us influence our personal journeys. What is it that drives us to connect more with one horse than another? How do relationship dynamics shift based on how I am showing up energetically? In what ways does this relate to my own life experiences?
Understanding: Another important fact to consider, is that horses are prey animals. This means that safety is an absolute priority and they will respond (fight, flight, freeze) when they feel threatened. As humans, so many of us have experienced some level of trauma that influences how safe we feel in specific situations. Learning about how and why certain horses may be more or less afraid can offer a deep level of connection and understanding as this is a concept that so many humans can relate to well. As prey animals, horses are incredibly mindful beings, truly embracing what it means to live in the moment. It is in understanding how to quiet our own minds and live in mindful presence that we can begin to find peace.
Value: What does it mean to have value? Is there a specific level of accomplishment you must achieve? Do you have to reach a certain level of productivity? Is value based on the number of hours you work or how much you sacrifice? Is it based on standards of age or beauty? The truth is...value is inherent. The fact that you exist is enough. You do not have to prove your worth to anyone. This is an important concept we want everyone who comes through our programs to learn, but to teach this we must also live it. In the equine industry many horses are valued by what they can do physically. When a horse is unable to be ridden they are often discarded to become someone else's "problem" or shipped to kill pens where they are sold to the highest bidder per pound. At Equi Evolution we believe that horses also have inherent value and we strive to offer safe and loving homes to horses who were deemed "not good enough" for someone else. Our horses come from a variety of backgrounds that make them unsuitable for a ridding program, but that in no way influences their value.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding how and why our unmounted programs are so powerful. To truly grasp the power of equine-facilitated learning you must experience it first hand. We applaud you for taking this step to grow and evolve in your own life and we look forward to sharing this journey together.