Equine Experiental Learning
Equine Experiential Learning (EEL) is a unique approach to personal growth, development and healing through interactions with horses.
EEL is a method that is now widely used in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States and is increasingly gaining popularity here in Australia. At the heart of EEL is the concept that peoples’ lives can be positively influenced and permanently changed by spending time with horses.
Spending time with horses can benefit individuals in many ways. Clients will experience increased confidence and self-esteem. Clients also tend to develop better communication skills and more fulfilling relationships in their lives. Self-awareness and increased knowledge about the cause and effects of behaviours can also develop. Often a person begins to feel greater empathy for others when responsible for a living, breathing animal. This can include developing the ability to self-love and self-care in healthy ways.
EEL is particularly useful for anyone who wants to develop qualities and skills in leadership, communication and confidence. For those who feel they have little control over their lives, EEL can be very empowering. However, anyone can participate in an EFL session and achieve positive results. Even if a person does not have a particular area of their life that they wish to change, the horse’s honest reaction to a person’s actions and behaviours can often give insight into true feelings and deepen self-awareness. Even at its simplest level EFL can give anyone a sense of achievement and well-being that is both lasting and valuable.
EEL does not require previous horse experience. In this modality, the horses assist to create a space for you to learn by doing. The horse is not a tool in the process, the horse is a facilitator; a sentient being who helps direct the session.
A variety of techniques and tools are used during the Heartland EEL sessions. This work is experiential; you interact with horses and reflect on that interaction. This work is somatic; it draws your attention to your body and changes within the body (identifying physical sensations and related emotions). This work is trauma informed; great care is taken to keep you within your window of tolerance while we carefully expand your capacity for resilience and coherence.
Equine Experiential Learning is a modality which is also known as Equine Facilitated Learning and Equine Assisted Learning but is different from Equine Assisted Therapy/Psychotherapy which, as the name suggests, require the involvement of a qualified therapist.
Heartland Equine Experiences offers EEL sessions in a variety of formats including one-on- one sessions, retreat programs for small groups and also offers sessions adapted to individual needs.
Most of the work takes place on the ground (does not involve horse riding) and an EEL session can take a variety of forms from simply learning to bond with a horse through mindful grooming to lunging, leading, round-pen work and much more. There are many reasons why EEL is growing in popularity as its effectiveness is experienced by more and more people. In the 25 – 30 years the modality has been evolving there has been extensive anecdotal evidence as to the effectiveness of equine interactions to improve a variety of physical, mental and emotional issues. In recent years research has been undertaken by agencies such as the Heart Math Institute and the Horses & Humans Research Foundation exploring how being in the presence of horses can aid humans, including how horses can regulate the human autonomic nervous system (decreasing anxiety and stress). Science is catching up to what those of doing this work already know – spending times with horses improves our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being!
I am a member of the International Institute of Complementary Therapies and offer individual EEL sessions for $75. I am also the WA Co-ordinator for Australian Equine Facilitated Learning Pty Ltd and offer training on their behalf for individuals interested in learning the modality. Please contact me to discuss training options and prices.