What is equine assisted personal development?
Equine Assisted Personal Development is an experiential therapeutic approach that uses horses to heal emotional, cognitive and behavioural issues while using outside-the-box thinking. This unique approach provides a safe environment to address emotional roadblocks, build confidence, and learn new life skills, such as assertiveness, empathy, communication, self-awareness and acceptance.
Equine Assisted Personal Development can be effective as a primary or adjunct treatment for a variety of mental health needs.
The use of horses in therapeutic settings has been in practice for generations. There are examples dating back to ancient Egypt, where horses were a critical part of society and when children were taught courage, patience, understanding and responsibility through the care of these great creatures. Throughout history, injured soldiers were paired with veteran horses to speed the recovery of wounds suffered in battle. More recently, over the past fifteen years, Equine Assisted Programs have been proven positive in assisting those suffering from a myriad of mental and emotional health issues.
For many people, Equine Assisted Personal Development can also simply serve as a time for quiet escape and self-reflection, to practice mindfulness and for the special experience of bonding with horses.
Horses are magnificent animals that possess great communication skills among many other qualities that we can learn from. Since horses are prey animals, their instinct is to flee at the slightest sign of danger and to react immediately if they sense something is off in their environment. They are one hundred percent present, one hundred percent of the time, making them very sensitive to their surroundings. Horses love unconditionally, and are soothing, willing, honest, patient, forgiving, non-judgmental spirits.
When we set out to work through a specific exercise or activity with the horses, your own inner emotions and body language begin to reflect. Horses never lie, so when you change your energy and personal rhythm, a horse will react immediately by mirroring back to you what is going on. This translation of the horse’s reaction will help you to develop your own self awareness. By seeing and understanding yourself in a whole new light, you can then apply the knowledge to your lifestyle moving forward.
who can sign up?
Our sessions are suitable for just about any person and for all different life stages, from eight years of age or older. Whether you are struggling with a particular issue that you want to overcome, or you are just curious about how horses can enhance your life, our one-on-one sessions are completely tailored to the individual as a co-created, co-imagned process.
What can I expect from my first session?
We will have a phone consultation with you before we even get started, in order to get to know you and what you'd like to gain from our experience together. From there, we'll decide on our first interactive session with the horses at Sierrah Acres.
Your session includes all the equipment needed for groundwork and all other exercises with the horse. We will remind you to wear comfortable clothing and shoes appropriate for the season.
Our sessions are experiential in nature and involve the processing of feelings, behaviours and patterns both before and after exercises. You will be in a safe environment and always given appropriate guidance.
A waiver form is necessary for completion and if under 18 years of age, completed by a parent or guardian. All information and sessions are held in complete confidence.
Can i bring my family member or significant other?
We are happy to accommodate you with family and relationship sessions when given prior notice. This can be very helpful to work through conflicts and learn new skills for mutual trust, communication and compassion.
Due to their personal nature, our individual sessions are closed to spectators.
Do I need to have experience with horses?
Horsemanship is not the focus of our self-discovery sessions at Sierrah Acres. You do not need to have any experience riding or being around horses. Instead, the focus is to learn more about yourself and develop important life skills that will enhance the way you experience relationships with others and, most importantly, yourself. Quite often, you will find that through the time spent experiencing what horses can offer, a new found love and bond can develop and is warmly welcomed.
Do i have to get on the horse?
There are a variety of exercises that we can do both on the horse and on the ground. Your sessions will be tailored for your comfort level and personal goals, and can involve a mix of mainly groundwork exercises, as well as some mounted exercises.
Horses are very large and powerful animals, so it is not uncommon to find them naturally intimidating. This creates an opportunity to develop confidence and overcome fears, which are helpful skills when dealing with other intimidating situations in life.
i have special needs or a physical disability.
can i still sign up?
Having special needs or a physical disability does not limit an individual from participating in, or benefiting from, interacting with a horse. We will discuss your individual needs in our initial consultation, and tailor the sessions for your physical, emotional and social well-being. If you have more severe health requirements, you may also decide to bring a primary supporter, family member or health professional.
Life happens and things come up. We ask that you provide a minimum of 24 hours notice when cancelling or rescheduling appointments. This gives us an opportunity to fill the appointment with another client. When 24 hours notice is not provided, late cancellation fees will apply to cover the missed appointment.