Alaqua Animal Refuge and Healing Hoof Steps have established a new partnership to provide equine assisted therapy to individuals struggling with mental health issues in our community. The partnership between the two organizations is an exciting extension to Alaqua’s Equine Interactions program that has been used to help children and adults with emotional traumas and developmental challenges to promote social and life skills in a supportive environment. Read the full release here: https://alaqua.org/equine-interactions-hhs/
Since 2014, our Equine Interactions program has helped children and adults with development challenges and emotional traumas develop social and life skills in a supportive setting. The program utilizes an experiential approach emphasizing relationship building and coping mechanisms to foster positive change.
Through a curriculum of activities designed to address individual goals and needs, each equine interaction is framed to help participants learn and grow, meeting them where they are at on their own journey.
Additionally, the program provides a peaceful environment for individuals, as the horse barn and its adjoining pastures serve as a unique multi-sensory classroom setting.
Prior horse knowledge or experience is not necessary to benefit from the Equine Interactions program. The only requirements are closed-toed shoes, the ability to walk throughout a pasture, and communicate with a treatment team. Military individuals and families may qualify for grant funding, and some insurances and Gardiner Scholarship accepted. To donate to our Equine Interactions programs, please click here: https://bit.ly/EI-2022
These attributes make the equine a natural partner to teach us about ourselves and help us develop better coping devices for navigating life’s challenges:
- The horse-human relationship is the only one in the animal kingdom where a predator (human) and a prey animal are able to work together for a common goal.
- Horses are hyper-vigilant creatures who seek to find a peaceful, meaningful existence and belonging within their own herd. Horses are able to model a desire for a life of peace while only tapping into a fight or flight response when it is becomes necessary for survival.
- As prey animals, horses must live in the present moment in order to survive. Mother nature did not give them the ability to worry about the future that hasn’t happened, nor the past that cannot be undone. For humans, anxiety is the fear of future events that may or may not ever come to fruition, while depression lies in the reliving of past experiences that cannot be changed. Horses remind us of the importance of living in the moment away from any anxieties or depression.
- Horses are very sensitive to both non-verbal communication and another’s energy, even when it is subconscious! As prey animals, horses must be constantly aware of every environmental cue in order to survive. These unique qualities and sensitivities give them a special capacity to read and respond to non-verbal symbols and cues, which can lead to powerful emotional interactions, breakthroughs, and life-changing insights.
- Horses can mirror humans through their ability to read a person’s body language. They can also hear a human heartbeat from up to four-feet away and sense emotions.
- Developing the skills to effectively communicate with a horse builds self-confidence, empathy, and trust. Since horses are large animals they can easily represent some of the bigger challenges and obstacles each of us face in life.
- Horses have survived for thousands of years because they create an effective social hierarchy with clear “rules” and responsibilities within the herd. Learning about herd dynamics and observing the horses as they interact is a metaphor for society, providing opportunities to explore social situations and how to successfully navigate them.
- Focused interactions with horses address trauma and other mental health needs, including substance abuse, depression, and family relationships.
For Children and Individuals with Special Needs
Equine Interactions enables those with special needs to develop positive life skills in a supportive environment, framed to help each individual learn and grow. The horse barn and its adjoining pastures create a unique multi-sensory classroom. Children develop self-confidence, problem-solving skills, a sense of responsibility, communication, creativity, impulse control, empathy, independence, and the ability to overcome fear. Equine Interactions is experiencing tremendous growth and has expanded to serve international children with special needs, as well as foster children.
For our Veterans and Military Service Members
Using the power of horses, the Equine Interactions program effectively heals individuals battling with a variety of physical or emotional issues, including PTSD, which has been called ‘trauma to the soul.’ Suicide, unfortunately, is one of the worst outcomes of PTSD, and military suicides have continually increase especially during our ongoing pandemic with natural disasters, deployment, and civil unrest. However, through this program, veterans are able to find much needed hope and healing.
Equine assisted therapy has been proven to help military veterans and their families as an alternative route to accessing the root of issues and experience meaningful changes in their lives. Equine therapy is NOT talk therapy. It is a way to experience learning through specific activities with horses that help to facilitate positive change. Therapy sessions are facilitated by licensed mental health professionals who specialize in the treatment of trauma using horses. This provides them a positive model for fostering collaboration, support and trust.
TO LEARN MORE OR SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT
Email [email protected] or call (850) 764-1005.