Therapeutic benefits of EFL
Sharing with a client an insight into herd dynamics can allow them to learn that their behaviour will have a profound effect not just on the horses but on the people in their lives. The interaction between the horse and the client is carefully overseen in a manner designed to bring forth confidence and self-esteem.
The presence of a therapy horse seems to release previous perceptions that the client (and often their families or carers) may have of themselves and allow them the opportunity to experience a new way of “being”. Good facilitators allow clients (and the horses) the space to grow and expand into their potential and this is inspiring to all who experience it.
Children and adults exhibiting the following life challenges have all responded well to positive interaction with horses:-
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Downs Syndrome (chromozonal deficiency)
This list is for illustrative purposes only as many other challenges could also benefit from EFL, in essence all individuals can benefit from EFL in some way. Children and young adults have shown improvement in the following areas after participating in EFL:
Improved family relationships
More appropriate interaction at school
Improved social behaviour
Greater acknowledgement of actions and consequences.
In general, benefits from participation in EFL have been observed in the following areas:-
Co-ordination and Motor Skills
Focus and Observation
Self control and self awareness
The following specific activities have been seen to produce improvements in the skills listed
Cognitive skills, fine motor skills, focus
Fine and gross motor skills, intent (emotional control), focus, balance, multi-tasking
Fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills, multi-tasking
Most clients will soon realise that excessive noise and/or motion confuses the horse and will result in non-compliance with requests. Aggressive behaviour is also unproductive and the client must modify their energy levels and actions in order to achieve the desired response from the horse.
Often when the modified behaviour has resulted in successful interaction, the behaviour will continue after the client has left the yard or arena. Repeated sessions can result in much longer term effects. To be considered successful an EFL session really only has to leave the facilitator, client and horse with a good feeling. Anything else is a bonus!