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Meet an unexpected teacher in the quest for well-being

There’s a new teacher, healer and therapist in the area. Someone you may not expect to visit for your monthly dose of inner peace, calm and new perspective on life.

That’s because it’s a well-kept secret that horses are masters at helping humans become more self-aware. Certified Equine Experiential Learning Facilitator Cheri Davidson of Horse Discovery in Millbrook explains, “Horses are able to read our body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and even the slightest change in our breathing or muscle tension. They instinctively know what we are experiencing and how to connect with us.”

Awareness of equine assisted learning has been growing steadily over the last couple of decades but is still a relatively new alternative in the health and wellness field.

Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning (FEEL) is a leading-edge modality that focuses on the mind-body connection for learning new behavioural patterns. Participants of FEEL affirm that spending time with horses while engaging in activities on the ground leads to an increased sense of well being and positive life changes.

Profound results have been shown in working with those suffering from autism and anxiety, war veterans experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and those living with a full range of mental and physical disabilities.

Horses lower our stress levels

More recently, studies are proving that horses are effective in lowering our everyday stress levels. In 2014 a Washington State University study found that the cortisol levels in children in grades 5-8 were lower after being around horses in an after-school program. Horse Discovery’s client Debbie Hamilton agrees that horses are calming, “I learned that I can be completely honest about what I am feeling with the horses - with no judgment or disapproval. Just grooming a horse and being aware of your breathing and their reactions is a wonderful way to reduce stress.”

Samantha Devlin of The Equine Link in Douro also offers an opportunity for self-discovery with horses. She explains of the work, “Horses will often choose the person they want to work with, and will clearly show the person a new way of seeing themselves, a behaviour pattern or a belief that is limiting their potential. The person will begin to build new life skills in areas such as non-verbal communication, leadership style or the ability to set healthy boundaries.”

From boardroom to barnyard - a unique way for your organization to grow

Horse guided learning is also effective in helping work teams to better communicate, appreciate each other’s learning styles and think creatively outside the office. Martin Yuill, Executive Director for the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster shares, “My time with Cheri’s horses, although it took place on one of the coldest days of the year - was a unique and wonderful experience. The obstacle course activity provided new insight on an issue I've been wresting with. This work has the potential to impact people on many levels. The horses get us out of the boardroom and stimulate creative thinking.”

Horses bring us back to nature

Being outdoors, surrounded by the beauty of creation, open spaces and fresh air allows us the space we need - space to go within, space to feel what our bodies are telling us, space for self-awareness. And being with horses gets us away from our phones, tablets and pagers - which is another opportunity to de-stress and recharge.

Plan to attend Dandelion Day on May 30 from 11 am - 4 pm for an opportunity to connect with Samantha Devlin, Cheri Davidson and “Sarah”. You could win one of 4 private horse guided learning sessions! Consider bringing a locally-grown organic carrot for Sarah.

Private sessions and custom workshops and retreats are available from The Equine Link (Douro) or Horse Discovery (Millbrook) No horse experience is necessary, and all activities are done on the ground.

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