This program is grounded in trauma sensitive mindfulness skills and techniques to improve their relationships and interactions with others. This program brings individuals and horses together to facilitate communication and mindful awareness of how our energy, thoughts, and behaviors impact our interactions with others; and how easily we can change our outcomes by making conscious shifts in our thoughts and energy. Participants will strengthen their resilience, confidence, communication skills, and focus by learning mindfulness skills and building relationships with their equine partners through activities and interaction on the ground and in the saddle.
Horses are amazingly perceptive beings. It’s common knowledge that dogs can smell fear because of their millions of olfactory receptors. Horses have keen sensory abilities that enable them to sense fear and many other subtle human emotions. Even though they have been domesticated, they still maintain much of their wild nature. In the wild they are prey animals so they are very adept at reading energy and responding to subtle cues we humans often miss on a conscious level. Horses are honest mirrors for what they perceive and they reflect an accurate image of how we are showing up in our relationships and our life.
Individuals living with PTSD remain in a state of hyper-vigilance and can feel threatened by everyday events. Because horses are prey animals, they exist in a similar state. By interacting with the horses, people with PTSD will often see their own emotional states mirrored in the reaction of the horse with which they are working. As they work to build trust with their equine partner, they learn how to create safety for themselves and others.
PTSD can affect our perceptions and affect the energy and signals we are sending out to others, so horses are the perfect partner to honestly and clearly tell us how we are engaging in our relationships and in our life. They help us see our blind spots and allow us to learn how to consciously change our responses and shift our energy so we can create the outcomes we want. Working with such large unfamiliar animals can push people outside of their comfort zone. The confidence they gain from interacting with horses, will show up in other areas of their life.
The Equines for the Front Lines (EFL) Program is offered at Hazelwild Farm Educational Foundation and Equestrian Center in Fredericksburg VA and facilitated by Melanie Yost, LCSW and Kristie McCary, PATH International Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor. The program consists of three 6 week groups. Groups will have a maximum of 6 participants. Each 6 week group will focus the skills training and exercises on a theme that builds resilience.
Group 1: Stress Management
Group 2: Communication
Group 3: Focus
Participants can attend one, two, or all three groups.
If a participant has attended all three groups and wants to continue involvement with the horses, there are many opportunities to stay involved with the horses at Hazelwild Equestrian Center: they can volunteer with the EFL program; they can volunteer with the Therapeutic Riding Program; or they can begin riding lessons at Hazelwild.
Contact our barn office for more details & information.