Working alongside horses provides wonderful insights into how we manage the challenging situations in our lives. Horses, just as humans, are social creatures with expressed roles within their herds. There are clear parallels between human and horse nature which presents a considerable opportunity for metaphoric learning and deep growth in our personal awareness.
What is equine therapy?
Equine therapy is a form of therapy that connects humans with horses. It is led by equine therapists and learning facilitators with extensive knowledge of horses, herd dynamics, individual characteristics and a keen eye for health and safety.
According to Emotional Wellbeing Manager and Equine Therapist Megan Bardsley, as herd animals, horses communicate non-verbally in a very sophisticated manner to each other and to humans who have learned to read their signals.
“Horses have a profound stillness and sense of awareness. Being prey animals, they are always on high alert for any potential danger. In this way, they provide a perfect mirror for how chaotic our internal world can be. When approached by a person who presents signs of a busy mind, horses can respond in a number of different ways. It may stir them up and get them quite flighty, they might move away entirely or, if the mind of the person is distracted, they will lose interest and shut off.
Spending time in a horse’s presence allows us to work alongside this gentle creature as a way of slowing our internal dialogue and being present to what is before us.”
How we deliver equine therapies for guests during their stays
At Gwinganna, we recommend equine therapy for guests seeking a unique alternative to traditional therapy as well as for those curious to learn more about the concept.
Each of the four types of equine therapies offered at Gwinganna involve horses and have different outcome intentions which require different skills from the practitioners.
EQUINE ASSISTED LEARNING (EAL)
Equine assisted learning is a practical and hands-on small group session related to personality traits, non-verbal communication and leadership.
Gwinganna’s equine assisted learning specialist guides you through the simple elements of natural horsemanship (horse whispering), giving you a greater understanding of the importance of non-verbal communication and emotional intelligence.
By participating in this session, you can begin to recognise areas in your life that may need to be brought into balance. Equine assisted learning is an exceptional activity for improving communication and leadership skills, learning how to say ‘no’ effectively and building confidence and self-esteem.
EQUINE ASSISTED THERAPY (EAT)
Equine assisted therapy is a one-on-one experience. Gwinganna’s emotional wellbeing therapist often works with the herd dynamics to facilitate the session by inviting you into the large grassy space where several horses are free to roam, graze, approach and withdraw at their own free will.
During this experience, you will gain insights into patterns and behaviours that may be running without your conscious awareness. Your therapist will guide you through several different approaches with the horse and discuss what comes up in the moment. This is a unique session of self-discovery and self-awareness.
EQUINE ASSISTED JOURNEY
Equine Assisted Journey is a one-on-one experience that utilises the principles of Journeywork in the presence of the herd with a Journey Practitioner.
This is a unique way of exploring your beliefs. By combining the deep inner intelligence of horses with The Journey, you will uncover the issues and blocks that can cause stress and anxiety. The very presence of the horse serves to support this path of inner reflection and clearing.
Journey therapy is a powerful process designed to uncover the root cause of whatever is preventing you from living a joyful life now. By helping you access stored emotions and past experiences and bringing you to a place of complete resolution of past issues, your Journey practitioner will help you to transform your fear, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, anger, addictions, physical illness and patterns of behaviour that are not serving you. The Journey is a globally recognised and highly praised healing process transforming the lives of people around the world.
EQUINE ASSISTED MEDITATION
Equine assisted meditation is unique to Gwinganna and is delivered as a one-on-one experience, with one horse as the ‘biofeedback’.
Under the guidance of a trained therapist, you’ll work with a horse to connect with your own inner peace. As a flight animal, a horse’s very survival depends upon this awareness and deep inner intuition. By observing and working with their intuitive intelligence, we can connect with our own. Find the stillness and quiet within to begin to notice our reactive selves and connect more with our responsive selves.
Equine therapy benefits
Equine therapy sessions are guided by our equine specialists and provide a unique and insightful interactive experience.
What is unique about working with horses is seeing how these amazing animals respond to breath, energy, and intention in real-time. Equine therapy gently exposes unseen human traits and deeply embedded emotional triggers or pain, which is a powerful modality to train conscious leadership and emotional intelligence.
You will learn practical techniques for emotional wellbeing, setting boundaries, gaining respect and replacing aggression or anxiety with calm assertiveness. These empowering sessions are suitable for anyone interested in effective communication both personally and professionally.
Equine therapy success story
A married couple decided to try our equine assisted learning session.
They were convinced this was totally esoteric and, as critical thinkers, believed they had to try it just to understand what it was about. They were so amazed by the session; they booked two equine assisted learning sessions during their next Gwinganna program six months later.
Since then, they both say it has changed the way they deliver their content in their high level work roles and that the sessions have improved their delivery so much that they have been asked what their secret is.