Equine Assisted Learning

Working with horses

An integral part of the Referrals Pathway therapeutic support programme

Running Deer’s Equine Assisted Learning is an integral part of the Referrals Pathway therapeutic support programme and introduces young people to horses, how to care for them, understand their behaviours and work with them to achieve an end goal. We also run single day sessions for groups or individuals.

Our main therapy horse is Trelawny, a 19hh Shire who has been working as part of Running Deer since its inception in 2011. We also have Cisco and Mario, Dartmoor hill ponies in training, part of the Equine Assisted Learning team.

Trelawny, Cisco and Mario are important members of the Running Deer team. Their contribution, endless patience and understanding have had a huge impact on people’s lives, especially those facing mental health difficulties or recovering from trauma.

Equine Assisted Learning

We adopt a very gentle approach, working at the pace of the young person, and the horse, with the aim of enabling the young person to witness how their behaviour and emotions reflects on the horse, and how to alter their behaviours by using the horse as a mirror; for example if the young person is feeling calm and receptive the horse is far more likely to want to spend time with them, will be engaging and willing to participate in activities. If, however, the young person approaches the horse with a negative attitude they are less likely to be able to engage with him – in fact he will probably carry on eating and ignore them!

Single Day Sessions

We provide one off single Equine Assisted Learning days for young people and adults in small groups, or on an individual basis. The day will introduce you to the horses where you will learn about basic horse care, grooming, checking their feet and so on and will give you the opportunity to spend time with these beautiful creatures. You will also be able to learn about the work of heavy horses, the harness and have the opportunity to long rein a Shire horse in full harness.

The sessions will consider the following:

  • Developing confidence and self-esteem (as an individual and in a group environment)
  • Assertiveness – a positive attitude reflects on the horse
  • Problem solving – Trelawny is feeling very stubborn – how are we going to resolve this?
  • Working as a team – with the horse and with humans alike
  • Leadership (through kindness rather than force)

We are also able to offer our Running Deer’s Equine Assisted Learning sessions as small group team building days.

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