Equine Facilitated Learning is an interaction between horses and people designed to promote experiential learning for all participants. Neuroscientists have identified that changes in brain wave patterns occur among people in the presence of horses. Appropriate interaction with horses has a long history as an effective therapeutic intervention working with either adults or children. Contemporary research suggests positive transformation can occur from close human-horse interaction (see article).
The notion that contact with horses can be beneficial or healing to people struggling with mental health issues stems from acknowledgement that horses (as domesticated prey animals) are extremely sensitive to changes in the human being (as a predatory creature). Due to this heightened sensitivity, a horse will react and respond differently according to a person's emotional state.
Since we know that emotional states in human beings also impact their physiology, it follows that horses can smell or sense (using their vomeronasal organ) these subtle changes. Hence a horse acts as a large biofeedback loop, providing the client and therapist with insights as to a client's moods and changes in mood. For instance, when a client is anxious the horse will act and respond to the anxiety in a particular way. As the client's anxiety is reduced, the horse's behaviours will change to reflect this. Such interaction provides a plethora of information and skill building opportunities for both client and therapist.
I work alongside Sue Blagburn and her company 'Adventures with Horses' to offer EFT and equine-facilitated therapy in a safe and supportive environment.