How does supported experiential work with horses benefit individuals?
Supported work with horses creates positive physiological change in the body and offers the mind a safe, supportive, non-judgmental experience. It can lower stress levels and reduce feelings of tension, anxiety, depression and anger as well as contribute positively in areas such as esteem building, personal agency and expanding patience and emotional tolerance. Engaging in therapeutic partnering with horses can also support development in self-awareness and care, relational attunement, boundary setting and resilience building.
When working with individuals and groups, specific care and consideration is given to;
1. Age appropriate grouping, language and setting/activities.
2. Gender sensitive grouping to decrease complexity and ease social and self-consciousness.
3. Any adversity experienced during the early/mid/late childhood developmental stages and what research indicates the impact may present as a result.
4. Trauma informed and non-pathologizing language and care.
5. Nervous system regulation/dysregulation as well as maladaptive behavior and coping strategies.
6. Unconditional positive regard.
Experiential learning with horses offers participants opportunities to transform struggle, trauma or limitation by opening biological, neurological and psychological pathways so that more functional patterns can emerge. Learning through experience (as opposed to theory or concept) creates cellular and muscle memory which are embedded in the physiology of the body, as well as support the creation of new beneficial neural pathways. In the same way that trauma and challenge can shape the body and psychology in maladaptive ways, positive experiences create disconfirming evidence which aims to and supports the recalibration and creation of more adaptive and functional ways of being and relating to ourselves, others and the world around us.
Horses are keenly intuitive and attuned to people’s slightest expressions and energetic or emotional shifts. A horse’s inherent gentle nature, curiosity, and desire to work within a herd or community will cause a horse to seek connection, even with people. Yet unlike most adults who have been socially trained to form judgments and think in terms of “right and wrong,” horses only reflect the truth of the present moment. Therefore, they will consistently mirror back to an individual, the truth of how they showing up in that moment - this feedback enables a deepening in awareness of self, environment and other.
Essentially the horse work involves a participant being supported to develop an intention relating to a personal quality they would like to cultivate or deepen. Alternatively, they might be invited to locate a place where they currently experience struggle and would like to experience change (such as with connection, play, building resilience, emotional regulation or boundary setting). The aim is to take that clarified focus into their interaction with the horse.
The horse will then naturally offer feedback to the participant about the influence they create in relation to that topic and provide tangible, real life, unbiased and trustworthy experiences of the impact their current mindset and emotional landscape has on them and their relational partner/s. This feedback from the horse can highlight things like; limiting patterns of thought and behavior, relational gaps in learning, self-generating resistance and blocks as well as genuine areas of success and strength. The process with the horse unfolds, the experience informs, and participants create for themselves specific and individual learning opportunities for their own growth and development!
**All activities are voluntary, co-produced with the participants and take place within a developmentally informed and trauma aware environment. There is a strong focus on personal agency and empowering participants to formulate their own way of being, expression and exploration. The work consists of individual and group opportunities and aims to offer learning experiences free from ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ concepts. It offers participants multiple opportunities to witness their own innate connection with nature and experiences of being guided by the wisdom of themselves within a natural world setting.**
Equine Partnered Therapeutic Experience™
Master Facilitator equus coach, international equine specialistand health therapist.
Willow is the founder of Unbridle Your Power and the creator of Equine Partnered Therapeutic Process™ (EPTP). She has been featured in Fodors.com “Top ten places in the world to experience Equine Therapy”, presented at multiple International Equine Summits and supported both Qatar and Australian national teams during 3 World Equestrian Games events 2007 - 2019.
Unbridle Your Power is a life coaching and psychotherapy service partnering people with horses for therapeutic healing purposes. The experience ideally offers clients an opportunity for experiential learning with a trauma informed, non-judgemental, unconditionally accepting and emotionally regulated equine partner. The service is supported by internationally certified and experienced equine facilitated practitioners in a physically safe and secure environment with a proven therapeutic process framework backed up by published research. The evidence collected from equine therapy research suggests high rates of success particularly in cases of PTS, depression and anxiety. It compliments talk and body based therapies with experiential learning and nature based components.
Willow works with a wide range of clients, all over the world, consisting of both individuals and groups, within the personal/professional/corporate development areas. She travels regularly throughout Australia and the USA teaching the EPTP™ model of facilitation, hosting EPTE™ workshops and sharing personal and professional development through coached experiential activities with horses.
Willow is passionate about personal growth through equine experiences because partnering with horses in a therapeutic way creates positive physiological change in the body and offers the mind a safe, supportive, non-judgemental experience of acceptance. She believes that free from the conditioning of "right" and "wrong" concepts we are all more easily able to access embodied personal experiences of safety, security and belonging.
Willow is inspired by what is possible when we partner with horses, and is a keen student herself in order to remain open and willing to learn. She studied and worked directly with Koelle Simpson from 2014-2018 (USA) and is currently in a post graduate program for Trauma Informed Processwork Psychotherapy with Pathways Psychology Institute, Sydney.
Willow is uniquely skilled and qualified to facilitate long lasting transformational shifts with an intentional focus on client led experiences and resolutions. A masterful blend of knowledge, experience, wisdom, humility and grace which comes together to offer herself and others the opportunity to learn and grow together through the inspiring lessons of the natural world and a dynamic partnership with horses