Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Equine Facilitated Learning (EAL) and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EAP)?
EAP and EAL are experiential in nature. This means that the participants learn about themselves and others by engaging in activities with the horses and then processing (or discussing) behaviors, feelings, thoughts and patterns. Experiential learning is “learning by doing” and engages the heart, mind and body. Studies have shown that people learn best through direct experiences. The difference between the two is that EAL focuses more on learning or educational goals and EAP is a more therapeutic approach. Both models utilize a horse professional and a licensed therapist.
Q: What happens in an equine-assisted learning session or an equine assisted psychotherapy session?
Most sessions take place on the ground with a few optional mounted exercises in some workshops and retreats. Specific horses or ponies are carefully selected. Activities may include exercises with the horses at liberty (no halters or lead ropes) or using lead ropes, halters and specific equipment like poles and other obstacles that the horses are lead through or encouraged to navigate based on the structure of the exercise. Some of the work we do with horses and participants involve body, emotion and mind awareness through reflective sessions with the horses both individually and while they are all together in a herd.
Q: Why are horses helpful for self-development and personal growth?
There are countless ways horses can help humans! Horses are the masters of emotional and social intelligence and non-verbal communication. As an animal that is preyed upon in nature, horses have an inherent, heightened awareness of their environment and the ability to read intent. Horses intuitively sense our emotions and energies around them and in turn, mirror and reflect those emotions and energies when interacting with us. They respond to what we are actually communicating thus providing honest, authentic and instant feedback. The horse becomes a bio-feedback mechanism in which we see ourselves and how we can measure our energy, intention, effectiveness and non-verbal communication. Horses are master teachers for helping us with empowerment, confidence building, developing leadership skills and opening our hearts. By interacting with the horse you will receive a moment by moment reflection of yourself and have the opportunity to experience in creating the change you want.
Q: Do I need horse experience?
Absolutely not! Some participants have lots of horse experience and some have never touched a horse.
Q: I am very knowledgeable and experienced with horses. Will I get anything out of this?
YES - we are SURE you will! In fact, you are already familiar with the kind of feedback horses can offer you. You understand that horses can “feel” everything when you are interacting with them. An experience of EAL or EAP may deepen your knowledge and appreciation of what great teachers horses can be to us humans.
Q: I am scared of horses! Can I still participate safely?
Yes you can! At Discovery With Horses we make every effort to ensure that everyone feels safe and respected. This includes the horse’s safety and integrity as well. We will never force you to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with and will always respect your boundaries and your choices. In addition, we will educate you around safety issues with horses before you interact with them. One of the reasons we have both a therapist and horse professional working together at the same time is to create the safest environment possible for all participants.
Q: What should I wear?
Wear clothes that are comfortable, weather appropriate and that you don’t mind getting a little grubby. It is important to wear closed-toed shoes. Depending on the weather, we may be working with the horses in the indoor or outdoor arena but will spend our gathering time in a cozy indoor room. The weather in Central Oregon can go through many changes in the course of a single day so be prepared with layers in the winter and in warmer months, the temperature can fluctuate quite a bit from cool mornings to hot mid-day temperatures. It is also good to bring a sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen for the high desert sun.
Q: What should I bring?
Please bring a journal and pen, although you will receive a binder with handouts and blank paper. We will provide lunch, snacks and beverages but feel free to bring your own water bottle or special snacks. We do our best to respect all dietary needs when preparing our meals. MOST IMPORTANT…bring your open, curious mind and your great big heart!