By Juliana Brossolette
Founder of Conscious Equine Connections
In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, where stress and anxiety levels are soaring, a unique form of therapy has emerged uniting nature and horses.
Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL), a branch of nature-based education and eco-therapy, has gained recognition as an effective method for improving health and wellness, fostering personal growth, and developing essential leadership skills. This article explores the profound benefits of EFL for individuals of all ages and sheds light on how this transformative approach can positively impact their lives. Prior experience with horses is not a requirement to experience these benefits.
Personal Growth through Horse Wisdom
EFL offers a distinctive approach to personal growth that goes beyond traditional methods by emphasizing learning through direct interaction and experience. Horses offer unbiased feedback, reflecting and mirroring our emotions and energy. This feedback becomes a valuable tool for self-reflection and self-awareness, allowing individuals to gain insights into their communication styles, behavioural patterns and areas for growth. The horse-human bond deepens individuals’ understanding of their own emotional states and helps them develop greater empathy and compassion towards others. By embracing the honest reflections from horses, individuals can develop a stronger sense of self, improved emotional regulation and empowerment to overcome challenges.
Leadership Development: Exploring Herd Dynamics and Interpersonal Connections
Based on years of research into herds and nomadic pastoralists, Linda Kohanov published a groundbreaking approach to socially intelligent leadership incorporating five key roles: the dominant, nurturer/companion, sentinel, leader and predator. By engaging with horses and a specially trained facilitator, humans can learn more about the roles they emphasize and the roles they find challenging. These practical insights help participants balance the five roles to enhance leadership qualities applicable in both personal and professional settings. A balanced leader values the diverse contributions of each team member, fosters open communication, and creates a culture of trust and collaboration. Through their presence, purpose and nurturing approach, these leaders inspire individuals to reach their full potential while guiding the collective towards shared success.
Wellness: Connecting with Nature and Horses as Healing Allies
The hectic nature of our modern lives has made finding relaxation and solace increasingly elusive. EFL recognizes the profound benefits of connecting with nature and horses as a form of healing for the mind and body. Spending time in the presence of horses, engaging in activities such as grooming, equine-guided meditation and mindfulness has a profound calming effect, reducing stress levels and promoting relaxation. A harmonious connection with horses serves as an antidote to the demands of our contemporary lifestyle. Nature and animals become powerful sources of healing, restoring balance and fostering overall well-being.
Building Resilience: Fostering Connection and Coherence
By cultivating coherence — a state of physiological, mental and emotional balance — we can experience a range of significant benefits. Some specialized facilitators combine EFL with the research of the HeartMath Institute, prioritizing the development of resilience through connection-focused experiences and coherence practices. Horses are “super coherent” and can help individuals cultivate their own balance and regulation. These experiences promote resilience, empowering individuals to navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and bounce-back from setbacks. Engaging in coherent breathing techniques, mindfulness exercises and heart-centred practices helps regulate the autonomic nervous system, leading to decreased levels of stress hormones and a greater sense of calm and relaxation.
In conclusion, Equine Facilitated Learning harnesses the healing power of horses to address the challenges of modern life. From personal growth and leadership development to improved health and wellness, EFL offers a transformative approach for individuals and groups. EFL is unmounted and does not require any prior horse experience, a fear of horse can also be accommodated. By immersing oneself in the presence of horses, connecting with nature and embracing the lessons they offer, individuals can embark on a journey of self-discovery, resilience building and personal empowerment.
Juliana Brossolette is triple certified, licensed, registered and insured and has 30 years of horse experience. Juliana apprenticed under industry pioneer and bestselling author, Linda Kohanov, and offers signature services with her herd of three Iberian horses at a private facility on Salt Spring Island. She also offers specialized coherence training as a HeartMath facilitator. To learn more, visit ConsciousEquineConnections.com.