Self Help

Partnering Horses With Humans – a New Form of Self-Help

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There is an emerging style of self-help therapy available in Muskoka.

Animals have been used for different types of therapy, with dogs leading the way in that department. But a new service in the Huntsville area features people working one on one with horses to achieve certain goals.

Partnering Horses with Humans is the name of the company.

Its formal name is Facilitated Equine Experiential  Learning (FEEL) but essentially what happens is a person figures out what issues they might have to achieve certain goals. They work on the ground with a horse in a pen, and through various actions get a horse to go around or through certain obstacles.

Then the human is incorporated with some obstacles of their own, such as public speaking or being less shy.

The owner of the company is Sue Dixon. She had taken an early retirement and was trying to figure out her next chapter when a friend who was taking a FEEL course needed help.

“She was looking for someone to help her be a guinea pig with the horse so she could practice and I would be her client,” explains Dixon “I became hooked because it is a new way of getting to know your horse!”

Sue Dixon with Presto, one of two horses available at Partnering Horses and Humans. (Supplied Facebook Photo)

Dixon’s love of horses started early in her life when her father bought a racehorse when she was just eight-years-old.

“He told my mother that he had purchased a horse at the racetrack,” recalls Dixon. “He ended up sleeping on the couch for weeks.”

But for her, it was a chance to get to know horses.

“This horse was very head shy,” she says. “You couldn’t put a bridle on him or pick up his feet because he had been beat up somewhere along the way.

“Being an eight-year-old child he would let me touch his head, put a halter on him or pick up his feet.”

When working with her clients, Dixon helps them identify what their goals are and creates an interaction with one of two horses available at her facility.

“One of the obstacles could be you are shy about speaking in front of other people so we would make that physically another object out in the round pen,” she explains.

All the work is on the ground, so no riding experience is needed. At times clients will lead horses by the halter and there is a lot of communicating without words going on.

Dixon says, “the horses know when your head is somewhere else and they engage differently if you are in the moment and being mindful.”

If you would like to find out more about what Sue does or to contact her Click Here!

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