Equine Facilitated Learning (7+)

You cannot teach the mind, until you have the heart.

Dr. Gordon Neufeld

Families and schools have faced a number of challenges over the last few years that have left parents and teachers overwhelmed and confused as to how to best support the children in their care. Children are acting out, trying to get their needs met the best they can – and their primary need, is a safe relationship with the adults who care for them. 

Throughout my time both as a parent, and in education, I have found the paradigm of Dr. Gordon Neufeld and his developmental model paramount to understanding the behaviour of the children in my care. More recently, having studied for four years under the mentorship of Kim John Payne, MEd. and his Healthy School Culture approach, I have encountered the many benefits of simplifying childhood – both at home and at school, and the power of creating a family context based on values, and not individuals.  

The science behind the theories has caught up. Dr. Daniel Siegel shares in his research on the neuroscience of relationship, the power of attunement, didactic and co-regulation. Our ability to regulate our emotions as adults directly impacts the ability of children to regulate their own emotions. Expecting otherwise sets us up for frustration and leaves both children and those who are responsible for them at a loss – faced with the symptoms of disregulation: behaviour and social issues.

When we attune with others we allow our own internal state to shift, to come to resonate with the inner world of another. This resonance is at the heart of the important sense of “feeling felt”that emerges in close relationships. Children need attunement to feel secure and to develop well, and throughout our lives we need attunement to feel close and connected.

Dr. Daniel Siegel

Over the past three years of mentorship and study of a variety of modalities of Equine Facilitated Wellness, I have discovered that this practice takes the theories of relationship – who we are being – and the impact of our presence, thoughts and energy, and creates a lived experience with the immediate, honest and clear feedback of our Equine partners. As highly sensitive and sentient beings, horses make the perfect partners for practicing awareness, emotional regulation, congruence (aligning the mind and body) and relating – for children and adults alike. We can then bring our experience with the herd back to our homes, classroom and workplaces, transforming the way we self-regulate, connect with others, and lead.

If you are interested in learning more about Joystone Pathways EFW and the programs we offer, both with and without the support of the herd, please click the button below to connect!

Would you like to learn more about my research? Click below to access my thesis: The Broken Telephone: Supporting Highly Sensitive Children at Home & School.