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What is equine assisted learning?

Equine Assisted Learning is a learner-based, educational experience with horses.  More specifically, it is a hands-on, innovative and practical way for someone to learn essential skills, and gain personal development, with all learning activities taking place in an outdoor classroom, with a horse as your teacher.

Participants work in small groups of 2-3 people and 1 horse. Together, through positive interaction and teamwork, participants and equine teachers will work through a series of objective-driven, ground-based activities (no riding), to achieve specific outcomes, so that each person learns about themselves, their strengths, their personality, and the energy they give out to everyone around them.

Personal skills such as confidence and self-esteem, trust, empathy, teamwork, leadership, respect, communication, decision-making and negotiation, are all addressed during our Building Block™ program – skills that will impact greatly on a participant’s ability to build strong family/social/community relationships, and gain future employment and financial independence.

Not everyone learns within a traditional educational environment. The success of our program is due to all learning and skills-building taking place outdoors. All learning is self-paced, hands-on and practical, thereby suiting the personality and learning styles of every one of our participants.  It’s fun, empowering, engages all senses, with all learnt skills transferable back to everyday life.

Questions about EAL

Why do we work with horses?

Horses, as prey animals, have highly evolved senses which makes them natural trainers when it comes to shaping a person’s thinking and behaviour.  

As a prey animal, safety is a priority for a horse, and when working with humans, they constantly look to us for authentic and clear leadership, respect, trust and teamwork.   

Their ability to read our body language, and sense the slightest physiological change within humans, and other horses, means they can often mirror the true feelings of what is going on inside us….. sometimes even before we fully realise what we’re feeling ourselves!!

As herd animals, horses seek out a connection with us, and by doing so, they enable participants to see how they behave in relationships. Their feedback to participants is honest, immediate and non-judgemental. They cannot lie, or over-think a participant’s motive. 

For the participants in our program this is both refreshing and empowering. This leads to barriers being dropped, self-confidence and self-esteem being discovered and engaged, and an increased feeling of self-worth, especially when little achievements lead to major personal success.  Essential life-skills that are all transferable back to their everyday lives.

What can a horse teach us that a human can't?

Horses live in the moment; they cannot lie, judge, or overthink our motives. Their feedback is instant and honest. They simply react in an authentic way to whatever stimulus is around them.

Horses help instil empathy and kindness in us.

Horses are natural interpreters of human emotions and behaviour.

Horses have distinct personalities and different teaching methods .

Horses lead through assuredness – not force.

Horses’ natural herd behaviour requires trust, respect and teamwork from all who work with them.  

Being herd animals, they seek out leadership.

Horses are engaging, challenging and fun!

Do I need horse experience?

Our program is specifically designed so that you do not need to have any prior knowledge, or experience working with a horse. We will take you through safety rules and precautions while you work with a horse in the arena. Your safety, and the safety of our horses, is always our priority.

Do we ride the horses?

All of our programs take place on the ground, out of the saddle, where it is easier to interact with the reactions of the horse.  No riding takes place in any of our EAL programs.

How safe is a horse?

All of our horses are specifically selected for their temperament and suitability for EAL, and have been used in the program successfully for several years. They all have different natures and personalities, which is useful for different situations and participant needs.

Our program is specifically designed so that you do not need to have any prior knowledge, or experience working with a horse.

Each week we will take you through safety rules and precautions while you work with a horse in the arena. Your safety, and the safety of our horses, is always our priority.

In addition to being given a full safety briefing each week, you will be shown how to recognise the many ways a horse communicates.  A qualified and experienced facilitator is always on hand to assist.

Our horses are fully vaccinated, and our Contractors follow guidelines by Bio-Security Queensland for equine best practice and welfare.

All sessions are conducted by EAL accredited and insured facilitators who all hold Blue Cards. We follow the requirements of Safe Work Australia in relation to horse activities, and conduct risk assessments throughout the day, and have a fully qualified first aider available at all times.

What research is being undertaken about RTT’s EAL programs?

Since 2022, RTT has partnered with the Psychology Faculty of the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) to monitor the positive outcomes that our EAL programs promote.
Please click on the following link to read more about our partnership, and the benefit this collaboration will have for our charity and programs.

How you can help

Reason to Thrive relies solely on the generous financial support and donations from the general public, community groups, businesses and grants, to be able to provide fully-funded programs to every participant referred to our programs. 

As we do not receive any Government funding assistance, it is essential that we build strong, lasting partnerships with organisations, and individuals, that share in our desire to support as many vulnerable young people, women and families in our community, as possible.  

Our Partners

Reason to Thrive partners support fully-funded EAL life-skill programs for at-risk youth and women impacted by family and domestic violence, playing a vital role in making a positive impact on their lives.