Horses to Boost Well-being as Pandemic Subsides

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Horses to Boost Well-being as Pandemic Subsides

the rider news sunset two horses and a rider

Horse Connections is based on the foundations of Equine-Assisted Learning.

Greely, ON - After a year and a half of lockdowns and isolation, the Therapeutic Riding Association of Ottawa-Carleton (TROtt) has rolled out a new equine program to boost well-being. The new program, called “Horse Connections,” invites its clients to interact with horses in sessions tailored to build trust and provide a sense of inner strength and presence, without the pressure of riding the horses.

Horse Connections is based on the foundations of Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL), an experiential learning approach focused on further developing and practising essential life skills like teambuilding, leadership, and communication through horse-human exercises. There is no riding in EAL, just working through exercises on the ground with your human-horse team and a certified EAL facilitator. “Horses are incredibly powerful teachers and we can learn so much from working alongside them.

Horses look for leadership and share many parallels to humans, like the need for trust and respect as essentials to building strong relationships. Horses can be intimidating, and at a thousand plus pounds each, they do merit respect! Yet they are also gentle creatures, highly sensitive to our emotions and energy. In their presence, we can learn a lot about how we ‘show up’ and interact with others,” said Megan Malone, TROtt’s Certified EAL Facilitator.

Like spending time with dogs or cats, Megan explained that spending time with horses can be equally if not more therapeutic and rewarding. The bond one feels with smaller animals seems amplified in the presence of horses.

TROtt was originally founded in 1975 as the “Greenbelt Riding Association for the Disabled.” Ottawa’s only CanTRA-certified therapeutic riding program, TROtt depends on the assistance of more than 100 volunteers and generous donors to subsidize the costs of caring for its herd of 12 horses, lodged at Equidae Stables in Greely, south of Ottawa.

Horse Connections was designed with frontline workers in mind, but is open to anyone interested, space permitting. Enquiries to participate may be directed to Megan Malone at 613-821-1844, or at ealtrott@gmail.com.

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