Equine Assisted Learning

Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is a unique approach to learning that involves interactive, goal-oriented activities with horses. Riding horses is NO LONGER a part of this program.

Why don’t our clients ride the horses?

There are many reasons why and we will list a few for you here.

  • Ground-based work is safer than riding
  • Activities with horses on the ground are richer therapeutically
  • Less instruction is involved in ground work and thus clients are more able to guide their own experiences
  • We are serious about our work with horses
  • Allows clients to learn through their experience
  • The horses are utilized as metaphors in these activities to build life skills and to promote the exploration of behaviors

EAL Examples

At Take Flight Farms, equine-assisted learning programs are tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of the participants. For example:

  • In working as a group to get a horse to walk backwards, students learn about their own problem solving and communication skills.
  • Building an obstacle course to lead their horses through helps youth to develop decision-making and goal-setting skills.
  • Responsibility is exercised when all participants are expected to wear appropriate attire, be on time and cleaning up after themselves and their horses.
“The part I enjoyed most was when we played games with the horses. It was hard; they were being stubborn. I got frustrated with them but at the end I was happy when I succeeded. The only thing that I didn’t like was cleaning up their poop. I guess that is just part of the responsibility you take on when you have a horse. Every time I went to the farm I learned something new. I learned how the horses are just like us in different ways. They have feelings and sometimes they act them out just as we do.”

-K. K., Participant

“At the end of each activity we ask, “Did you think you would be able to do that activity when we asked you to?” Almost without fail the answer is “No, I never thought I would be able to do that.” We see improved feelings of competence in every session, whether it is in the form of facing a fear, utilizing a unique problem solving strategy, or forming a bond with the animal.”

-Dr. Beth Avolio, Licensed Clinical Adolescent Psychologist

“For many of our students, family life is often chaotic. That is why it is so great for us to see the students at their “Graduation” from Take Flight, which is held at the end of an 8-week program. They are all excelling at something really incredible, and most of them have their family there to support them.”

-Jill Nuismer, Social Worker, Millard Alternative Middle School

“It is fascinating to see, not only the child’s progress from one session to the next, but also to see the horse’s reaction to what is taking place. It is a combination that, in itself, proves the value of this program.”

-Charlotte S., Volunteer & Equine Specialist

Who can benefit from EAL?

  • School/Youth Groups
  • Families
  • Organizations/Companies
  • Military/Veterans
  • Retreats/Workshops