Equine Assisted Learning
Learning Life Skills That Last A Lifetime!
Equine assisted learning (EAL), which combines experiential learning, interaction with equines, and life skills education to increase participants' affective, physiological, and behavioral regulation. Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) offers unmounted and mounted equine learning programs in Efrat, Israel (54 minutes south of Jerusalem).
What is Equine Assisted Learning?
Equine assisted learning (EAL) is an experiential method where the focus may be on developing specific skills as well as social, emotional and behavioral development. This focus on life skills can be related to academic achievement and classroom behavior, personal growth and exploration or professional pursuits such as leadership development and executive coaching.
Who facilitates EAL?
EAL interventions and learning opportunities are facilitated alongside specialist practitioner and National Titled Equestian, Esther Abta.
Esther Abta is a licensed Israeli Social Worker and multi-Regional, National, and World Champion competitor. She has combined her knowledge of horses as well as her training as a Social Worker to provide individual or group sessions.
Why use horses?
Horses are prey animals and are vulnerable as such. As a species their survival has depended on co-operative group living, highly developed non-verbal communication skills and the ability to run away at speed from the threat of a predator (Mills & Nankervis, 1999). As a consequence, horses are social beings by nature and finely tuned to body language. Horses are therefore highly sensitive and responsive to the behaviour of others which includes humans. This innate responsiveness means they are able to provide feedback which facilitates the therapeutic process of EAL (Burgon et al., 2018).
Who is EAL appropriate for?
EAL is appropriate for young people in the foster care and adoption system, young people struggling or excluded from school, those with emotional/behavioural issues and young people and adults with mental health issues and learning disabilities, including those on the autistic spectrum (Burgon et al., 2018).
Horses & Mindfulness
Horses naturally live in the moment and strive for a peaceful existence: to forever be galloping around would use up far too much energy for an animal that needs to graze for a large proportion of its day. Horses are therefore naturally in a “mindful” state: they are fully embodied and seek calmness and connection with each other and the world around them, qualities sought by practitioners of Mindfulness meditation practices. The qualities that horses bring to the work with young people in our EAL practice then enable the introduction to Mindfulness concept and practices to happen in a naturally occurring way (Burgon et al., 2018).
Skills Learned Weekly
making good decisions
reading body language
managing risk, setting boundaries
respecting personal space
teamwork & leadership
negotiating environmental sensory stressors
understanding social cues
Evidence Based Techniques
The horse is claimed to provide benefits such as being non-judgemental and motivational (Bowers & MacDonald, 2001; Yorke et al., 2008), useful as a metaphor (Karol, 2007; Klontz et al., 2007) for building self esteem, confidence and mastery (Virdine et al., 2002; Bizub et al., 2003; Trotter et al., 2008), adapting behaviour (Kaiser et al., 2006; Schultz et al., 2007) and effective for building trust and attachment with both the horse and therapist (Brooks, 2006; Yorke et al., 2008; Chardonnens, 2009). It is claimed that animals in general can act as ‘communication mediators’ within the personal development environment and help to provide a calming effect, especially during initial sessions (Levinson, 1969; Corson & Corson, 1980; C. Wilson & Turner, 1998; Fine, 2000; Friesen, 2010).