Confidence: The learning and mastery of a new skill, fueled by desire, enhances our confidence in our ability to tackle new projects, modify behavior, and leads to improved self-esteem.
Motivation: Learners are motivated to learn self-control techniques, social skills, and attention by their desire to engage the horses. It is this mounting desire that fuels the learner to engage in the activities that are necessary to achieve positive outcomes in the social landscape.
Communication: Horses' sensitivity to non-verbal communication assists in developing greater awareness of their emotions, the non-verbal cues that they may be communication, and the important role of non-verbal communication in relationships.
Trust: Learning to trust an animal such as a horse also aides in the developmetn, or restoration of trust for those whose ability to trust has been violated by undesirable interactions or experiences.
Perspective: Through grooming activities and other types of care for a specific horse, learners are able to put aside the absorbing focus of their mental landscape, such as negative ruminations, and instead to direct their attention and interests outwardly toward safe and caring interactions.
Self-efficacy: Learnign to communicate and achieve harmony with a large animal promotes renewed feelings of efficacy. A motivated "I can do it!" replaces feelings of helplessness and amotivation, thus empowering the person to take on challengs in other areas of life.
Self-concept: Helps learners to develop a more realistic view of themselves throught awareness of their size in relation to the horse. This is especially effective in changing interpersonal aggression problems.
Anxiety reduction: Many studies of human-animal interaction indicate that contact with animals significantly reduces phsiological anxiety levels. Some learners are initially afraid of horses, but horses' genuineness and affection allay these fears, helping them to embrace exposure therapy for their anxiety issues.
Decreasing isolation: For many individuals with emotional and behavioral challenges, there is a long-term or recent history of feeling rejected by and different from, other people. Acting our are intrinsically isolating experiences. The horses' unconditional acceptace invites these clients back into the fellowship of life.
Self-acceptance: Many learners are initially concerned that they will do something embarrassing while learning about horses. Yet they quickly learn that the other participants are engaged in their own equine experiences, and they observe the comfort of the horses in their own skin. Fears of embarrassment in public are thereby often reduced and self-acceptance increased.
Impulse modulation: Particularly for those whose behavior patterns involve the experience of lost control over impulses, the need to communicate with a horse calmly and non-reactively promotes the skills of emotional awareness, emotinoal regulation, self-control, and impulse modulation. Research clearly indicates that animal-assisted therapy reduces agitation and aggressiveness and increases cooperativeness and behavioral control.
Social skills: Many individuals with ASD, Aspergers, ADHD, and ODD are described as socially isolated or withdrawn. A positive relationship with a horse is often a first, safe step toward practicing the social skills needed to initiate closer relationships with people.
Assertiveness: Communicating effectively with a horse requires the learner to demonstrate assertiveness, direction and initiative, important skills that enable them to express their needs and rights more effectively in other relationships.
Responsibility: Caring for a horse requires thoughtful deliberate routines and consistency. A desire to nurture these magnificent animals and achieve closeness motivates us to take on responsibility.
Creative freedom: Many persons have been emotionally inhibited or over-controlled, and have lost some measure of spontaneity. Consequently patterns of learned helplessness may have developed. The playful aspects of equine interaction and team equine activities can help restore spontaneity and ability for healthy recreation and play.
Connection with nature: Through Equine Assisted Learning experiences, we have a unique opportunity to encounter the outdoors from a new perspective. Feelings of joy and connection are often discovered or revived as we experience the earth's beauty in a renewed way.
Congruency: Horses don't lie. They give us honesy, immediate feedback while teaching us to be honest in return. The first step towards congruency is honesty.
Truth: Horses authentically and clearly express all of their feelings: fear, confusion, boredom, playfulness, power, confidence, and desire. Like a giant mirror, they reflect how we're feeling and our emotional health, while inspiring us to be authentic.
Authenticity: As we develop our own abilitye to be authentic and bypass judgement and the need for logic, we learn to let go and honor the natral learnign that comes from following our inner guidance (emotional learning).
Peace: Horses are fully present in the moment which serves as a calming power that melts away stress, helps us gain perspective, and reinforces attention and sensation.
Sensory: Horses coat, breath, sounds, and smell provide powerful sensory experiences that stimulate learning.
Community: As herd animals, they prefer contact with others to being alone. They give us connection to other living beings and teach us about relationships, social skills and offer a nurturing, caring, and self-empowered perspective.
Dreams: Their majesty and beauty have the power to captivate all who witness and inspire us to dream.
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