AHH Wellness offers Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) at Adventure Stables in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland & Labrador. EAP and EAL involve the inclusion of horses in the therapeutic process to assist humans with mental health and wellness as well as personal and professional growth.
In this article, AHH Wellness therapy horses Buddy and Beau explain how they assist “hoomans” with their mental health through the predator/prey theory.
Lisa: Thank you guys for assisting with the website blog by agreeing to this interview. Maybe we could first start with introductions.
Beau: Sure Lisa. Hi, I’m Beau. I’m the white horse in the picture but in the horse world I’m called a Grey. Pretty cool, huh?
Buddy: and I’m Buddy. I look like our dad who is a Fjord horse, kinda buckskin color. And although I'm younger than Beau, I'm bigger and stronger than him. Much better looking too if you ask me. Whinny, whinny, whinny.
Beau: No one asked you Buddy.
Buddy: Just sayin’.
Lisa: You guys are funny. So you’re brothers?
Beau: Yes, we are brothers. Buddy is my younger brother, even though he’s taller and bigger, and apparently “better looking”. But seriously, he’s an awesome big, little brother. He looks out for me in the fields and protects me when something scares me. Funny thing is though, he’s actually afraid of more things than I am. Whinny, whinny, whinny.
Buddy: That’s right, I am the protector, unless it’s a plastic bag flying across the field. Those plastic bags are scary, man. They’ll eat ya, if yer not keeping an eye out for them. Whinny, whinny, whinny.
Lisa: Ha Ha. Ha. So, I’m going to ask you guys a few questions about your role with the AHH Wellness program.
Beau: Be happy to help Lisa.
Lisa: So we know that Equine assisted psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that incorporates horses in the therapeutic process. What can you tell our readers about your specific role? What is it about a horse that makes this form of therapy so beneficial for a human?
Buddy: I got this Beau. So you know how you hoomans know when another hooman is sad. You see them with tears in their eyes, or tears running down their face. Right? Well us horses, or ahem equines, we can see you hoomans crying from the inside, when you don’t show it on the outside.
Beau: Yes, that’s right. We have this innate or natural ability to see what’s going on with a hooman on the inside. We know when hoomans are sad, even if they do not cry. We know when they are angry, even if they do not say or show they are angry. And we can even know when a hooman is in pain, both physically and emotionally, in their head and in their heart.
Lisa: So you don’t need any special training at all, you are born with this natural ability. Wow, that’s a pretty special ability.
Beau: Yes, we are born with this ability. It’s because we are prey animals. You see Lisa, in order to survive, we have to know what our predator is thinking at all times. And I’m not sure if you know this, but as a hooman, you guys are a predator to us.
Buddy: Yes and so are plastic bags.
Beau: Ya, and plastic bags. Seriously Buddy!
Buddy: Ok so maybe not plastic bags, but definitely hoomans.
Lisa: This is interesting. So as a prey animal you can sense what a predator is thinking. And because you sense what a predator is thinking you can also sense how their thinking makes them feel?
Beau: Exactly. How you think makes you feel a certain way and we can sense all of that even if you don’t show it on the outside.
Lisa: So how does your ability to know what a hooman is thinking and feeling on the inside help them feel better?
Buddy: Its all about how we respond to a hoomans thinking and feeling. We respond to a hoomans actions, but we also respond to a hooman according to what is happening with them on the inside.
Beau: Ya, so if a hooman is sad and crying on the inside, we may want to get closer to that hooman, be nearer to them to listen to their story and what’s causing their pain.
Buddy: Or if a hooman is angry on the inside, we may want to move away from them.
Beau: Until they stop feeling angry.
Buddy: Ya, when their anger leaves, we will respond to that by moving closer to them.
Lisa: So you mirror whats happening on the inside of a hooman?
Beau: Ya, that’s it. We reflect back to the hooman what is happening to them on the inside, so they can be more aware of what they are thinking and how their thinking makes them feel.
Lisa: Well, this is so fascinating guys. Thank you for your explanation of the predator/prey theory. Anything else you can think of that would be important for our readers to know.
Beau: Yes. I feel its important for everyone to know that not all of us Equines are appropriate for this kinda work with hoomans.
Buddy: Ya, that’s right. Here at Adventure Stables we have many horses in our herd but not all of them work with AHH Wellness.
Lisa: Whats the reason behind that?
Beau: Well you see, just like you hoomans, us horses.
Buddy: Ahh, Equines, Beau!
Beau: Sorry; “Equines”.
Buddy: Thank you.
Beau: Yes, just like you hoomans have many different personalities and quirks, so do us equines. We have some equines that love hoomans, like myself and Buddy.
Buddy: and we have others that are grumpy and don’t like hoomans, like Jack.
Beau: Yes, Jack doesn’t like hoomans much. He’s a good guy, he’s just grumpy.
Lisa: So I take it you both enjoy the AHH Wellness program.
Beau: We love it. Its good for us equines too. We get to enjoy time with our herd and hoomans and to put that carrot on the cake, we help hoomans feel better. What a better way to spend the day. Whinny, whinny, whinny.
Lisa: Ahhh, that’s great. Thank you for your time today, guys. I'm sure we will be hearing more from you both over the coming weeks and months.
Beau: You are very welcome Ms. Lisa.
Buddy: Yes, thank you Lisa. How about a treat now? Got any carrots? Peppermint nobs? How about an apple?
Lisa: You and your belly Buddy. Oh dear.
Buddy: Whinny, whinny, whinny.
Lisa Wade MSW, RSW