What is Equine Assisted
Equine Assisted Learning is a
hands-on educational program that uses the interactions and
developing relationships between horses and humans in an
environment of learning and self-discovery. It is designed
to promote personal growth by providing insights and
opportunities to develop social, life, academic, or
professional skills in a fun and supportive environment.
Through a curriculum of activities designed to address
individual goals and needs, each equine interaction is
framed to help participants (children, teens, & adults)
learn and grow. The barn/farm environment naturally lends
itself as a unique multi-sensory classroom. EAL is
facilitated by credentialed professionals with additional
training and education in working with equines and
understanding their innate behaviors and qualities.
How do EAL programs address
social and life skills work at Take The Reins?
Each week the participants
explore a new theme through the eyes of their horse.
Examples are; making good decisions, reading body language,
managing risk, setting boundaries & respecting personal
space, teamwork & leadership, negotiating environmental
sensory stressors, understanding social cues.
Each lesson begins with an
introduction to the skills that will be explored, how the
horses will help, and what students need to understand about
the horses before they begin. With staff guidance the
students interact and work with their horses. They
continually observe their pony’s responses and behaviors as
feedback and validation on what they are doing. Staff assist
students in making regular ‘check-ins’ to make sure that
they and the horse understand and are feeling comfortable
with each step of the activity. As the participants engage
in the equine experience in an active manner, they are
afforded the opportunity to capture the concepts to be
learned, and develop new skills with their horses. As trust
and comfort levels grow, they tackle new activities,
building competencies and increasing self-confidence.
At the end of each lesson,
students reflect, discuss, model, role-play, and participate
in games designed to bridge the skills learned with the
horses to their own social interactions and life
Take The Reins provides a
supportive educational environment that allows for
individual learning, including one-on-one assistance
throughout each class. Our multi-sensory environment and
inclusive teaching strategies supports all learning styles
and learning differences. Accommodations and modifications
will be utilized when needed to promote individual success.
What topics are covered?
The EAL Program at Take The Reins
helps children and teens gain insights and develop skills
and experience in the below skill areas. Topics are chosen
to best address the needs of the groups of students
attending the program. Our Equine-Assisted Learning staff
work closely with parents to customize each lesson plan to
the needs and strengths of the students. Below are common
skill sets that many students gain benefits from exploring
Body language - Understanding non-verbal cues (others
and their own)
Modulation of communication
techniques/appropriate responses to others
being a good leader and teammate/working together
Making good decisions – managing impulsiveness
Honoring our instincts and feelings - Knowing when to ask
Understanding learning differences –
appreciating each other’s strengths
Mistakes – We all
make them and we can all learn from the
valuing what makes others special
Dealing with new
situations –anxiety and hypersensitivity issues
Assessing target issues & triggers
Learn to body scan –before anxiety gets
Self-calming techniques - Ways to de-sensitize
Ways to decrease anxiety and have success
All of the below attributes make
the equine a natural partner to teach us about ourselves and
society, provide opportunities to develop skills, and
practice better ways to navigate life.
Both as herd and prey
animals, equines are very attune to reading body
language. They are able to give people honest, clear,
and accurate feedback to their non-verbal communication.
Equines clearly communicate what they are thinking and
get confused when people don’t do the same. Survival
instincts have made them experts at reading intent,
including our subconscious ones. Their feedback can help
us become more centered and focused when interacting
Equines don’t bluff, pretend,
have hidden motives or use innuendos. Their innate
ability to communicate purely and consistently provides
us with honest feedback to our use of body language and
helps us to be clear and thoughtful in our social cues.
This creates a perfect scenario as we explore our own
social behaviors and the feedback the horses provide us.
Horses as herd animals
provide a useable metaphor for our own society,
including: leadership/teamwork, family, workplace, and
classroom interactions. As the participants develop a
bond with their horse, it is natural for them to want to
be able to address their horse’s needs, concerns, and
comfort levels. This promotes empathy and respect. When
a person provides clear communication and leadership,
horses respond with a willingness to partner with them
and follow. Participants can apply the skills developed
while teaming with horses, to working with other people
in a team or group.
CLICK HERE to learn more
about our EAL for HomeSchooled Children
CLICK HERE to learn
more about our EAL for Families and Siblings.