The Horses vs. The Shrink – How Equine Assisted Learning is Changing the World


Equine Assisted Learning, (EAL), is a coaching approach. This method aids individuals in changing patterns of behavior in their lives. Therapy, on the other hand, addresses a psychiatric concern and aims to medically cure the problem. This difference is critical: it must be understood before an individual will know which approach is right for them.

What is Therapy?

Therapy is provided by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other licensed mental health professional. A doctor usually refers a patient to therapy after discussing problems the client has in his/her life. These problems are so difficult that the person needs medical intervention so that he or she can get their life back on track. Often, this requires counseling, medication, or a combination of both. Talk therapy uncovers the underlying cause of the psychiatric problem. Time is spent focusing on the patient’s past, in order to better help the patient with present difficulties. It is scheduled routinely until the patient’s condition stabilizes. For some, this takes months, for others, it takes years.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is an education-based approach to self-improvement. The coach and the client are not doctor and patient, and the coach does not explore the client’s emotions. Instead, the coach and client explore the client’s actions and reactions. Through this self-exploration, the client can identify thoughts, behaviors, and patterns that need to change in order to increase the client’s personal and professional life.

Coaching is not necessarily session based; the client and coach come up with goals that the client wants to meet. Using the client’s current situation as a starting point, they work together to change behaviors to better benefit the client and his or her wishes. Coaches most often help with: identifying or creating personal and professional goals, improving communication skills, and achieving a work/life balance. Coaching relies on the health that is already there and builds up a person so that they can reach their full potential.

What is Equine Assisted Learning?

Equine assisted learning is coaching, which uses horses to aid in self-exploration and growth. Coaches take their clients through different exercises that involve interacting with equines. These focus on character traits or personal goals instead of discussing feelings and emotions. The client uses their reactions, and those of the horse, to find patterns of behavior. After the exercise, the client examines these patterns, and brings their new found knowledge into their daily lives, in order to meet personal or professional goals.

Horses, unlike humans, are totally and completely transparent. They cannot lie or otherwise deceive people. That is why EAL is so beneficial. Even if someone tells a friend that their behavior is holding them back from achieving the success they could achieve, the friend could believe that they are being lied to. When a horse reacts to a person’s behavior, that reaction clearly shows the client how his/her behavior is impacting their life. Since Equine Assisted Learning is experiential, clients can apply their new found positive behaviors to their day to day lives. The horses used in Equine Assisted Learning are not personally familiar with the client, which is exactly what makes their responses so insightful.

How do I know if I would benefit from EAL, or if medical treatment would be a better option?

Equine Assisted Learning is a great fit for you if you are an individual who wants to change old patterns. If you are having problems functioning in day to day life, then therapy is the option for you.

Equine Assisted Learning is changing the world.

Equine Assisted Learning is the key that individuals from all over the world have been looking for. Through EAL, humans can explore patterns of behavior that are slowing them down or causing them to plateau on the path to personal and professional growth. Once they know what these are, they can change them. Because of that change, humans will become more successful than before. However, people looking for professional growth or success are not the only types of people who should consider EAL. EAL can benefit personal growth as well. Through the patterns the client discovers, personal changes that are made. These will positively impact everything from relationships to self-motivation. Everyone will grow, change, and succeed after participating in this life-changing form of coaching!

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Written by Crystal Lynn