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Effective Personal And Professional Development – 5 Reasons To Learn From A Horse

Shari Lange is owner and operator of Parallel Effects Equine. As a Certified Equine Assisted Learning facilitator, she helps business clients and individuals learn powerful personal development skills by partnering with a horse coach.

Executive Contributor Shari Lange

Did I say learn from a horse? Yes, I did. Did you know that partnering with horses for personal and professional skill development is one of the most effective and successful methods available? Clients are partnered with a horse as a teammate/coach. We add scientifically researched programs and a Certified Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator, which generates unforgettable learning. Here are five reasons why it is so effective.

Shari with horses

Reason 1: The equine-assisted learning approach

First of all, I need to define Equine Assisted Learning. Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is a learner-based, hands-on, non-riding, skill-building experience that partners clients with horses. No horse experience is necessary. It is available to anyone with a cognitive ability of age 8 and each program guarantees an outcome. It is an approach to get participants out of a classroom and into the arena where both individual and team growth can develop simultaneously. The individual or teams work through scientifically researched, objectively driven exercises. A certified EAL facilitator guides and engages the clients through the program, in a fun, positive, exciting atmosphere. When is the last time people have been excited and challenged for a personal/leadership/team building event?

Reason 2: Gifted coaches – The horses

Horses are the pivotal ingredient to these programs and no other animal can substitute. Horses are prey animals. They were created with hyper-sensitive instincts and senses for survival which makes them the perfect teachers/coaches and teammates for humans. Those instincts and senses provide horses with the unique ability to decern the difference between calm, non-threatening energy versus threatening, dangerous energy. 

Horses show humans how they are interacting with each other. They are like an antenna within the team. Horses are constantly scanning, assessing and reacting to the stimulus the participants provide. If communication or proper leadership is lacking, the team will not reach their objective. It is important to realize that horses cannot judge and their feedback is honest and instant. They view us all equally and under that premise, do not care about social position, looks, employment position etc. This makes every participant equal in the program. There can be no intimidation, bullying or favouritism among participants. Every person is the same. If the team is not effectively working together, the horse lets the facilitator know. Immediate changes in behavior or leadership need to be made to continue and achieve the objective.

Horses live in the present moment at all times. This is important because as the horse reacts, it immediately course corrects. This forces humans to live in the present along with them and immediately change their behavior to achieve the objective.

Reason 3: Guaranteed results

A participant cannot be stuck in the past or worry about a future outcome, only the current problem. Horses are active participants, team members and teachers. They command respect and leadership creating engagement and some unpredictability. This promotes growth when participants are forced out of their comfort zone. Horses draw out empathy and active listening skills. This creates engaged participation and enhanced problem-solving. Horses have a calming effect on humans with an innate ability to reduce human stress. This short video Connecting Hearts: Understanding the Research of the Symbiotic Relationship Between Horses and Humans provides a glimpse into understanding the human-horse connection. Though a horse cannot judge, they do challenge leadership and behavior and understand it. This is how they live and survive in a herd. The horse makes the invisible behavior among individuals and teams visible to the facilitator. Horses provide deep insight into why humans behave in a certain way and give the participants immediate feedback to know how to change it for the future.

Reason 4: A credible certification

Certification is a key component to running successful EAL programs with results. I chose the facilitator certification from Equine Connection – The Academy of Equine Assisted Learning. It is a scientifically researched, global certification program. It holds its facilitators to a very high standard. Consider doing some research when choosing a horse-assisted development program. There are other equine-assisted certifications with facilitators doing remarkable, effective work. Make sure to look for a program that requires a standard of excellence and code of ethics for both the horses and their clients.

Reason 5: A proven method: The equine-assisted learning formula

Certified facilitators are required to have a clear understanding of the EAL fundamental principles. These include but are not limited to, appropriate application, understanding the human/horse parallel of behaviors, providing opportunity for relationship development in a positive learning environment. 

According to Equine Connection – The Academy of Equine Assisted Learning, here is the successful Equine Assisted Learning Formula:

Horses + Objective-Based Exercises + Effective Facilitation + Experiential Learning = Positive Change

Equine Assisted Learning has many applicable uses: proactive corporate team building and leadership development, leadership for youth programs or individual personal development. It is also utilized in rehabilitative programs: mental health, at-risk youth or adults, addiction, and abuse. The applications are numerous.

Partnering with these gifted animals as an educational experience, is an effective approach to personal and professional development. Every program has a guaranteed outcome. Do not let fear of horses get in the way. Many have come to the program scared and intimidated and left feeling empowered. I constantly strive to keep the safety of clients and horses at the forefront of my business by adhering to high standards set by my certification. Together my team and I move individuals and teams forward in both life and careers. We build essential skills with integrity, purpose and unforgettable results which apply to everyday life.

Read more from Shari Lange


Shari Lange, Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator

Shari Lange is owner and operator of Parallel Effects Equine. As a Certified Equine Assisted Learning facilitator, she helps business clients and individuals learn powerful personal development skills by partnering with a horse coach. Utilizing unique, scientifically researched, horse assisted programs, participants begin rediscovering themselves and revealing organization and team dynamics through experiential learning. Parallel Effects Equine facilitates mental health, trauma and addiction recovery programs, leadership and teambuilding skill development workshops and women’s empowerment events.



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