Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
The Power of Connection
Video by Drew Harris Cinematography.
On a quiet mountainside ranch south of Hamilton, is a therapeutic program incorporating a natural setting, horses and a therapeutic team to address
mental health needs and promote healing.
At Haven’s Horses, we believe in the power of the human-horse connection. Horses have been used for utilitarian purposes throughout history. In their domestication, they depend on us, often for their very existence, and for that we have a responsibility that we take very seriously. In our modern day, we have more reason to see the horse as a life spirit, rather than solely for our use. We believe this interspecies relationship should be one where we succeed together, and because of each other, working together as partners.
Horses don’t have preconceived ideas or judgment about people, but are astute and careful observers, and are tuned into conditions related to survival. As a species, horses didn’t just happen to survive and evolve for 45 million years by accident. As prey animals, they are very sensitive to the environment and all creatures within it. They instinctively pick up on human behavior, body language and emotional states.
Initial sessions can help with the assessment phase of treatment by observations of how the client relates to the horse, the natural surroundings and the human therapeutic team. The experimental process allows real time interaction with the horses and their responsiveness, and thus offers clinical information beyond an office setting. Most Haven's Horses sessions are conducted on the ground. Often the horses are at liberty, each displaying their unique personality and life history, adding richness to the experience.
Once patterns, themes and issues are identified, there is the opportunity to work through these in real time. This can vary from building resilience and coping skills, adjusting to life changes, to working through adverse experiences such as complex grief and trauma conditions. EAP can promote trust and rapport within the therapeutic alliance, oftentimes faster than an office setting.
When the horse is at peace with you he is soft
Softness is a way to be rather than a thing to do
Softness is the calm the horse has when he is grazing
The client may lean toward the team for support and guidance with new situations, while also being encouraged to take risks and push beyond their comfort zone. Clients have the opportunity to implement new behavior or actions while knowing their emotional and physical safety is priority.
Like people, horses also benefit from healthy conditions and thrive when their needs are met. Well cared for horses make strong connections and view the world as a positive place. Engaging in activities with the horses can be a powerful experience. They live in the present but have a very good memory. It can also be a very soothing and rejuvenating experience for the heart and soul.
We have helped people from all walks of life. We can honestly say that the horses have helped change lives. (Keep reading!) As people come with their unique struggles, life situations and a desire to improve their mental and emotional health, we are here to help.