Is it safe?
Yes! We make every effort to make sure that it’s as safe as possible.
No one rides the horses during workshops – all the exercises are done from the ground. We give guidelines as to how to dress for safety and comfort, and how to behave to make sure everyone stays safe.
During the exercises with the horses, we have experienced horse handlers who stay in the arena and remind you of the safety guidelines if needed. They will take charge of the horses between exercises so you can focus on learning, and will step in during exercises if necessary to keep you safe.
We’re careful about the horses we use too. They’re all experienced, healthy horses or ponies who are used to people and to each other, and to working in the arena. We never use animals in a workshop that we have not previously worked with ourselves.
We always encourage people to take part, but we’re flexible about it. So if you’re extremely scared of horses you’ll be invited to work alongside the facilitator or horse handler to start with. Also, we never force people to participate – we make sure that there is a safe viewing area available if you don’t want to get into the arena with the horse.
Will I have to ride a horse?
No. Equine-assisted learning is not about riding or learning to ride. All the exercises take place with the people on the ground.
What if I’m allergic to horses?
We have had people who are allergic to horses in our workshops. They manage their condition with medication, step outside the arena or the training room as often as they need to, and have even taken showers and changed clothes at the training location to get rid of all the horse dust before getting in the car to go home! We do everything we can to make it possible for everyone to attend our workshops, but in the end it depends on the individual and the strength of the allergy.
What if I’m afraid of horses?
If you’re extremely afraid of horses, one option is for you to work closely with the facilitator or horse handler, carrying out the exercises with an experienced person beside you managing the horse until you feel secure.
A second option is to use mini-horses! For many people, part of the fear of horses is based on their size. To help overcome this, we will use ponies, which can be as small as 1 metre high at the shoulder, but respond to our inner state in the same way as the horses.
Everyone is encouraged to take part in the exercises, using either or both of the approaches outlined above. However, if you’re unable to get into the arena with the horses, there’s a safe viewing area from which you can observe. We find that people get a lot out of watching and sharing their observations in the debrief sessions, so you won’t be excluded from an event with a group of colleagues even if you can’t take part in the exercises.
Will I be out of doors during the exercises?
Whether we work indoors or outdoors depends on the local weather conditions as well as as facilities. We do our best to limit physical discomfort, as this can distract from learning, but we do this in different ways depending on the situation. We try to find facilities with covered arenas to work in, in order to avoid the possibility of weather-related disruption or distraction, but if this is not possible we make sure that participants are well-equipped for the weather.
For participants who are used to the sanitised comfort of an office or hotel training room, many equine facilities may comes as a bit of a shock. But we will make sure that your basic needs are met – and we always provide homemade cake!