The Power Of Gentleness

Equine Assisted Therapy on a Rainy Day

Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) has been reported as beneficial for numerous families living with FASD. Common therapies are often found to be ineffective, as they do not account for the unique needs associated with cognitive impairment. EAT uses experiential learning, without the need to discuss abstract concepts, which can enable positive change for those with FASD.

Anxiety is a common experience for children and adults living with FASD. Therapist Elizabeth Hannah recently shared a case study outlining how EAT teaches clients to regulate their own emotions in order to develop a relationship with, and provide care for, a horse. Read her story below.

Recently, a 14-year-old called Emma attended Black Horse Therapies on a rainy and windy day. Emma has a history of strong anxiety. Horses are sensitive to the weather and sometimes become nervous in strong wind and other storm conditions. We have a large area at the back of a big shed for wet or windy days.

This was Emma’s second visit. During her first session she showed a calm and gentle way with the horse she was working with, which calmed him like magic! I had never seen Sammy, our Clydie-cross, so relaxed with anyone. Her mother commented afterwards that they seemed almost to be hypnotized!

During Emma’s second session I introduced her to Pip, our 2-year-old miniature horse. Pip was quite nervous about the sound of the rain on the tin roof of the shed. I asked Emma if she could help Pip settle down.

We found that Pip was feeling too restless to enjoy being brushed (which she usually loves) and that she was better being led around. Pip is a young horse and, in some ways, similar to a young child. Emma has younger siblings and she understood this about Pip (without being told). I set out hoops for Pip to walk through and logs for her to walk over. (Read more…)