Horses have been used for many things over the years like robbing banks, delivering the mail, pulling plows, and even jumping in efforts to win Olympic medals, but did you know that now they are being used as teachers in therapeutic schools?
Horses actually teach class and guide therapy sessions at our school. Believe it or not, horses are very expressive and are able to communicate verbally and non-verbally.
Surprisingly, relationships with people and horses are very similar, allowing teens to talk to the horse like they might communicate with another person. But unlike people, horses cannot be controlled or manipulated and therefore provide real unbiased feedback to the teen. But don’t worry; the teens rarely get kicked.
In fact, our horses are quite gentle when providing an immediate response. Yet, they are able to highlight the short-comings in one’s communication style with the firmness that only a thousand pound beast might.
The instructors are watching this interaction to help the teen uncover patterns of communication. With time, the partnership that is built between the horse and a student is potent and enables a student to work out some very personal issues. And so the horse arena becomes a counseling arena as teens battle to gain their voice while revealing themselves for the first time. It is a magical experience that awakens self-understanding even among the most oppositional of students.
Our primary goal is not technical riding or horsemanship tasks or even to foster a love for horses, but rather to provide an opportunity for teens to learn about themselves and how they communicate. Partnering students with horses has become a fantastic tool at Shelterwood through which teens can express themselves. Who knew that the best teacher your son or daughter might have is standing in the pasture eating grass?
Stay tuned to subsequent blogs where we discuss other special therapies including, our low ropes course, recreation therapy, sand tray, art, and music – all of which are being used by Shelterwood to help teens uncover the motivations that maintain feelings of depression, anger, and anxiety.
If you are interested in Horse Therapy give us a call to learn more. (800) 584 5005