Equine Interactions Program
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 safe and peaceful environment for individuals, as the horse barn and its adjoining pastures serve as a unique multi-sensory classroom setting.
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:
- Equines are herd animals who naturally want to interact. Therefore, they easily engage participants with their willingness to respond and cooperate.
Horses do not have ulterior motives when they interact. Their non-judgmental presence creates an emotionally safe learning and sharing environment.
Horses are very sensitive to both non-verbal communication and another’s energy, even when it is subconscious! 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 and can act as an “assistant to the therapist” 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 ensuring safety and harmony with-in 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 increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the previous year—especially in the COVID era 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. After program completion, individuals better understand the dynamics of their own family, military unit and community. This provides them a positive model for fostering collaboration, support and trust.
A scholarship fund has been set up to help underwrite the costs for our military veterans to go through this 8-week program at Alaqua. You can support this impactful program by donating in honor of a veteran in your life or contribute to help one of the men or women in need of help. It is truly lifesaving. You may make a donation here: https://bit.ly/Equine-Military
Alaqua’s Equine Interactions program is certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) and is also one of their EAGALA military services designated programs.
TO APPLY: While we search for a new Program Director, this program is currently on pause. Please email our Executive Director Jeff Jacob with questions. [email protected]