The Horse And People Project provides a service for people who would like to experience a different approach, using horses, to making positive changes in their lives. Horse assisted therapeutic learning, (HATL) is an experiential way of learning about ourselves, our thought processes, behavioural patterns and how we can change these once we are aware of them.
Our mission is to make HATL accessible to diverse groups and communities to allow the benefit of this fresh and engaging service to be available to the people who need it most.
HORSE ASSISTED THERAPEUTIC LEARNING
If you have already researched this approach, you may have come across several different terms to describe aspects of it: Equine Assisted Learning, Equine Assisted Therapy, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and possibly more. We use the term horse assisted therapeutic learning, (HATL) because it reflects what we do most closely. It is not psychotherapy but it is therapeutic in that it provides people with the opportunity to make positive changes to thought or behavioural patterns that are limiting, distressing or harmful, and feel happier as a result. We learn about our thought and behavioural patterns through interacting with horses in an environment which allows the horses to display their natural behaviour. Their responses to us during the games and challenges designed by the HATL Facilitators, provide opportunities to develop a greater self-awareness, new coping strategies and skills to apply to other areas of our lives that we want to change. HATL might be described as; gentle yet challenging, fun yet profound, immediate yet lasting, accepting yet transformative, individualised yet collaborative and above all, it is person centred. Neither we nor the horses make assumptions or judgements, but work with you in the moment, on what is important to you at that time.
HATL - HOW DOES IT WORK?
We believe that HATL works on several different levels and for many reasons.These are some of the things you may like to know:
There is no riding involved at all. The relationship we develop with horses face to face and on the ground is different to that of horse and rider and the way we communicate is different too.
Horses are herd animals and prefer to live in a social group, relying on their finely tuned senses to keep themselves and their herd safe. They respond to tiny changes in their environment, including us and our behaviour. This helps us to become more self-aware and we can identify thoughts and behavioural patterns that may be strengths to build on or something we'd like to change.
Horses are large animals with minds of their own. If a horse doesn't want to do something, it probably won't and this too can be used to explore our response to things not going our way and whether there is a better response to be learned. This dynamic can highlight habits that we develop that we can change.
The games and challenges with the horses that we, the facilitators design, offer opportunities to explore general or specific issues for both individuals and groups.
Clients often tell us that they learn about themselves through the horses and sometimes they use the horses' responses to 'remodel' their own.