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What is Equine assisted learning?

Each of us are shaped by our individual experiences in life and the journey we take means that we have to solve our own challenges and find solutions within a continuum of success, failure, struggle, and resolution. The same principle applies in equine assisted learning sessions. At all times, we trust that the learner holds within their struggle the solutions they need. Like life itself, this process is often messy and imperfect. Our goal is not to make things easier or to create short-term fixes, as this will have little impact in the future, but to facilitate a scenario wherein the learner can move towards long-term solutions and skills.


In equine assisted learning sessions we create a setting working with and without the horses wherein people can move, practice and learn resilience and problem-solving skills while working through these struggles. This active, immersive process is called an “experiential” modality. Through the various dynamics made possible by the horse, Choice Equine learning enables scenarios to evoke metaphor, response, and movement.  The focus is on doing rather than talking, giving people plenty of opportunities to explore and learn and adjust their reactions in responses to the horse’s behaviour.  At Choice Equine Learning we keep the focus on what is happening in the moment.  There are no right or wrong answers.  If the learner is successful setting up an interaction to achieve response and connection with the horse without producing threat, fear, or discomfort for them, those skills can transfer to creating connection in the human world.


People learn best by doing.  Life lessons take deeper root when individuals both understand them and experience them.  Working with horses in equine assisted learning is engaging, real time and hand on. Experiences are immediate.


Equine facilitated learning is a highly credible, effective and worldwide recognised technique. Choice Equine Learning brings people and horses together in order to help people make positive changes in their lives and give them an alternative way of learning and overcoming obstacles in life.  


Through a range of experimental exercises and therapeutic activities, Choice Equine Learning can help in a number of different ways.  Typically participates are involved in activities on the ground, and a trained facilitator guides the learning process. Learning is achieved through choices, consequences and reflections in a safe environment. People can either choose to work directly with the horses or not, the choice is entirely theirs.


We work with individuals or groups  with our family herd of horses at our dedicated center in Organford, Poole, Dorset in the south west of England.


Choice Equine Learning accepts appropriate referrals from education, social services, NHS, Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services, locality Integrated Childrens Service, other voluntary agencies, family/carers & young people themselves. 


Activities are metaphor based in the hope that horses become something other than horses in people's lives and/or perceptions.  It is hoped that people take this experience from working with the horses and apply it to what is going on in their lives, giving it a different experience.  This at times can be challenging but it lets people think outside the box, explore new solutions and bring to focus how they want to address their life. 


Choice Equine Learning was created dedicated to delivering top quality educational programs and life experiences. Using our horses as guides, we are proud to offer unforgettable experiences that help to inspire, believe and succeed in life. 

Why Horses?

Horses represent power, control and freedom.  They are non-judgemental, act as metaphors for real life situations and provide many opportunities for discussion and learning.  Horses echo our language and mirror our behaviour and can awaken underlying reasons for behavioural patterns.  Horses are very intelligent and can sense where you are, even before you do.  When the focus is on the horse it comes off the individual so that they are able to experience more awareness for themselves or understanding in ways they weren't able to before. Choice Equine Learning provides solution focused experiences where an individual finds solutions for themselves


Horses are social animals and like to be with their peers, like us, and have defined roles within their herds.   They have their own personalities and attitudes, things that make them "tick" and experience emotions. In other words they are a lot like us, or us like them?  When we work on our relationships with horses, we in turn are working on our relationships with others.  


Horses are prey animals.  Unlike other therapy animals such as dogs who are predators, their survival depends on being able to read our non-verbal communication.  The way the horses react to us will be familiar to relationships and dynamics in our lives.  The horses can represent our hopes and dreams, our fears, our relationships with our family, teachers, colleagues, friends and will act in a corresponding manner.  Their reactions then allow learners to work through these issues in a safe, non-judgemental way.   

horses as our partners...

The benefits of horses were recognised a long time ago.  Horses have supported people for thousands of years and have been a primary vehicle for our evolution and development. We have used them to help plough the land, travel long distances and as courageous allies in battles.  Horses have been contributing to our human development in a partnership of balance and harmony for centuries.  


As our horses were replaced by machinery to help us work and fight, they have become our recreation. Horses have been extremely beneficial in helping us on our outer journey through life, but much research points to the profound positive impact that horses have on helping us in our inner journeys. Horses can help us by being our teachers and our healers.  They can help us to reconnect with ourselves, and to re-discover what is important in life and what has meaning.  


Working with horses helps us to get to the crux of issues much more quickly than talk based therapies alone. This is because horses are highly sensitive and intuitive.  They are extremely receptive and responsive to body language, emotion, energy and intention.  They have the ability to sense at a deeper, sub-conscious level what a person needs.  Equine assisted learning is an alternative form of effective intervention to many people with a wide range of challenges.  The horse by their natural biological make up are prey animals which means they are always aware of what is happening in their environment, and this helps to keep them safe.   As we are a predator to them, they are looking to see if we are congruent — that our insides match our outsides. If we are not congruent, then that is a threat for them.  


With horses as our teachers we can learn to trust, be confident, be honest, have integrity, be empathetic to name just a few qualities. This is because horses have the ability to respond immediately and give feedback to the learner’s action or behaviour.  Horses are able to mirror our emotions and because with Equine Assisted Learning the basis of this experimental form of intervention is that as horses behave similarly like humans do in their social and responsive behaviour, it is easy for learners to establish a connection with a horse

What We Can Learn From Horses....


Horses are not interested in where we come from, the status in our jobs, the money we earn or the places we've been, or not been.  They are interested in the present moment and reading our body language and commitment to a task in hand.  Our horses choose to connect, work and engage with learners with those that are "fully in the moment", and will give instant, accurate and non-judgemental feedback to help learners reflect on what they do know, presenting a choice to change so that we can go forward in our lives.