A Mutually Beneficial Approach
It has long been understood that just being around horses can be hugely beneficial for a person's mental health and well-being, and research is now starting to support this. Some of the benefit comes from being in nature, being in touch with our senses and in a wonderful space away from every day stresses. Some of it comes from inviting ourselves to just be, something that the horses are very good at and can show us how to do if we pay attention.
Horses are sentient, emotionally sensitive and intelligent animals. If we are able to watch them, their interactions with each other in the herd, and their responses to us, they can offer us a rich source of feedback and information about ourselves and how we relate in the world. They are also sociable and non-judgemental, and for many people they offer a safe and rewarding relationship, free of the complications of many human to human interactions.
We offer equine-based therapeutic activities to the public where both horses and people can learn and develop at their own pace, in a safe and non-judgemental environment. We understand that an equine interaction can only be truly therapeutic if it takes place in a setting where horses have choices and autonomy and all their needs are being met. Our activities are always safe and force-free, designed to be mutually beneficial to both person and horse, creating an opportunity for people to heal, flourish and grow in the presence of our wonderful herd.
Considerate Equine Assisted Therapy
People who undertake equine-assisted therapy do not have to know horses or even like them to benefit from it, some might have a fear of horses, and it an be done from either side of the fence, so people who are nervous do not have to ever go beyond their comfort zone. The therapy that we offer does not involve riding or even touching the horse if a person prefers not to.
You can now find equine-assisted therapy offered at many venues. Unfortunately many of the providers promote and use dominance reduction techniques, which compromise equine welfare and go against our ethos. We are currently training with Minds in Motion Education and Research Centre (MiMer), which focuses on equine welfare from a scientific perspective, and promotes therapeutic activities which don’t negatively impact on the horse. Horses are naturally curious and interested in the world, so we hope that our interventions may be experienced as positive for them too. We believe that only when the environment and activities are truly safe for horse and human, does healing or growth take place.
All photos on this page show Rachel and Lisa both facilitating and taking part in equine facilitated therapy on our training course with MiMer Centre, taken at Athena Herd https://athenaherd.org.uk/