EAL Activities from HorsePowerTR

For those of you looking for more EAL style activities, here are some ideas from a program at HorsePowerTR. They provide a blend of unmounted and mounted TR and EAL activities for a group of Naomi House residents who have complex histories including trauma, victimization from sex trafficking, childhood abuse and drug addiction. Thank you so much for sharing your program with us, Carrie!

The Program

  • 90 minutes, once a week
  • lead by 2 instructors and 2-3 volunteers
  • participants are 2-5 ladies who come with 1-2 staff members
  • participants are coping with PTSD, depression, anxiety, low self-image, poor body-image, and many other challenges

The Session

  • Start with coffee and a check in (which animal do you most feel represents your energy level today, one word for what you hope to experience in the next 90min, etc).
  • 30 minutes of quiet animal time in Critter Connections (walking a goat, holding a bunny, shedding out a mini donkey, throwing scratch to the chickens). The goal is free choice, fun, relaxation, socializing.
  • Last half is spent either in a mounted TR lesson, or EAL, its about 50/50 between mounted and unmounted.
  • End with a wrap up and as its a Christian organization, we all lay hands on a horse (all on the same side of the horse) and one person prays for the group…..powerful stuff.

EAL Activities they often use

  • herd observations (we do this A LOT)
  • roundpen with join-up
  • blindfolded leading thru obstacle courses with a peer giving verbal instructions
  • linked arm leading
  • lunging lessons
  • spa grooming sessions
  • obstacles
  • desensitizing (car wash, tarps, flags).

(The sign on the horse says “I will carry you”).

Difficulties

  • Recently it’s been a season of physical issues (injuries from prison sadly) and no physician release to ride.
  • We have heavier riders in this group (rehab + body image issues = weight gain) and our program lacks a large enough horse to accommodate.
  • Compassion Fatigue in the instructors and volunteers.
  • Participants not being as open as expected.
  • Participants leaving the house and program suddenly.

Benefits

  • We have seen incredible connection, discoveries and sustained personal growth. “My riders from Naomis House discover they are stronger, more patient and more resilient than they ever believed before. The acceptance extended to the women by the horses, myself and the HorsePower volunteers has demonstrated that they are worthy of love, respect, friendship and bright futures.” -Carrie Capes, Recreation Therapist, HP Co-Founder, and PATH Certified TR Instructor
  • “Interacting with the horses has opened my eyes to some of my flaws that I need to work on. For example, when I get frustrated, I forget everything else around me and I lose focus. I learned that even if something or someone is working against me, I still need to continue to live my life and keep up with my regular routine and not let everything else fall to the wayside.” -NH resident
  • “Riding at HorsePower has been a magical gift. My connection with my horse has been amazing to me. She makes me feel so alive and free and loved. The outside world disappears when I am at HorsePower. It is so peaceful and so stress-free. This is something I have always longed for. A horse’s spirit reminds me of my own….it’s impossible to break.” -NH resident
  • “For the time I am at HorsePower, it is magical. I have no worries and no frustrations. It’s like an instant pill that we all wish we could take sometimes to get rid of our problems. Even after leaving, it seems my problems are so small I wonder why they ever impacted me so harshly.” -NH resident

Important to Note

  • The head instructor is a Recreation Therapist, and the participants come with staff who can provide professional assistance as needed, so no one is working beyond their scope of practice.

I hope you found a little inspiration there!

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Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement! If you would like to contribute an activity or article, please contact me here, I would love to hear from you!

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