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Healing With Horses & Equine Facilitated Learning

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Healing With Horses using Equine-Facilitated Learning

Why we partner with horses to help develop well-being and build resilience using EFL

Who you truly are can be sensed by animals. Often times it is apparent that they have a sense of knowing that goes far beyond our own. They do not judge or punish us for our state of being as they don't see us as we see ourselves. For animals such as horses, who we truly are is not judged as 'right' or 'wrong', it simply 'is'. That said, they DO respond to our state of being!

Their responses (actions or behaviour) assist us by helping us understand who we truly are in that moment. As you experience a unique view of yourself (assisted by what you read in the horses responses), you will develop self awareness, which in itself is incredibly healing. Increased self awareness provides opportunity to expand your perspective beyond what you think is the correct way of being into more of who you truly are.

The EFL sessions we conduct as part of our Healing With Horses service gently help us learn to become more 'present' which is a state of being rather than doing and is also called being "in the moment". This naturally promotes mental, emotional and physical balance and some would say, a deeper spiritual understanding of our true unique nature. This in itself promotes well-being and lasting resilience!

Two way communication with horses happens on a sensory level and the magic of this experience is long lasting. Over time you will integrate into your heart and embody even more of who you truly are. As you learn to express from your heart, you will experience a greater awareness of the quality of your relationships with others such as co-workers, family members, or other animals you care for. 

This leads to improved heart-centred connectivity with yourself and naturally promotes more self compassion, compassion for others and for animals and the natural world too. The real gift of Healing With Horses and EFL is the whole world benefits!

Scroll down to learn more about Healing With Horses and EFL with Holistic Reflections...

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Healing With Horses using EFL


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What exactly is EFL?

EFL is best understood by experiencing it for yourself. We like to explain it as "healing, learning and personal growth and development brought about through interacting with horses". The horses (the Herd) and the facilitator (Beccy) facilitate the learning. The participants experience the learning in their own unique way and will thus explain their experience uniquely!

We have adopted the HERD (Human-Equine Relational Model) Institute model and as such have embodied their philosophical foundations of an embodied, relational and authentic way of being which allows for experiential elements to arise within the session.

This is in contrast to other AEL models where sessions are often pre-planned and are not truly allowing authenticity and optimum opportunity for embodied learning and expansion.


Is EFL a form of psychotherapy?

There are different approaches and models used in this field and it is sometime called Equine Assisted Learning or EAL. Where EFL or EAL involves 'therapy' it is facilitated by a qualified psychotherapist and termed Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy or EFP/EAP.

Our Healing With Horses EFL sessions are facilitated by Beccy Smith, a graduate and member of the HERD Institute and listed on the HERD Institute website. 

Healing With Horses and EFL has therapeutic value and promotes well-being and resiliance but should not be confused with psychotherapy. 

For a list of current HERD Members offering EFL and EFP in your area please visit

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What are the benefits to attending Healing with Horses EFL sessions?

There are many documented benefits recorded on the benefits of EFL and these include improvements in:

Emotional Health

Mental health

Communication and cognitive skills

Addiction behaviours

Anxiety and stress related disorders


So-called negative behaviours

EFL can also lead to:

Improved connection to self, others and the environment

Improved well-being

Lasting Resilience and a more fulfilled, happier life

Increased focus and productivity in all areas of life

Healthier relationships with self and others

Deeper spiritual connectivity

More productive and healthier home, leisure, learning and workplace environment!

Increased compassion in self which leads to increased compassion in the community and towards animals

There are many, many ways in which EFL can help and everyone will experience a different benefit as everyone's experience will be unique to them. Indeed each session will provide unique insight and learning opportunity for the individual.


Who can benefit from Healing With Horses and EFL?

Literally ANYONE and EVERYONE can benefit from EFL, especially:

People experiencing a lack of health and well-being seeking to improve wellness and build resilience holistically, for whatever cause or reason.

People in a caring profession, eg doctors, vets, medical and veterinary support staff, animals carers, equine professionals, social workers, police, fire fighters, etc...

Entrepreneurs, CEO's and management staff responsible for employees and/or exposed to corporate pressures.

Anyone seeking enlightenment, self awareness and a deeper connection to self, others and the wider environment.

So you see, you do not have to be "unwell" to benefit from EFL as it supports the concept of "positive living" and those proactively seeking improved resilience holistically! In addition, with self development and expansion comes self compassion and this directly impacts on those around us - meaning the whole community of people, animals and the environment benefit from one person evolving and growing as a result of EFL!

Beccy with donkey and dog

How to I book Healing with Horses using EFL sessions for myself, my team members, my family or clients?

Holistic Reflections will be offering EFL sessions from October 2019. Please visit Healing With Horses EFL Availability page for the latest information about available sessions at our HQ near Egremont, West Cumbria. If you are not local, please visit the HERD Institute website to help you locate an EFL or EFP practitioner near you.

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Is it ethical working with horses in an EFL setting?

We prescribe to the Compassionate Equestrian principles of Horsemanship which are 25 principles developed by Dr Allen Schoen and Susan Gordon. They offer a way of working with horses that honours the horse as a sentient being, placing compassion and empathy at the core of their teachings. The principles cover all aspects of care and holistic consideration.

Beccy abides by the HERD Institute Code of Ethics and professional Practice. Beccy is considered a herd member and the horses are very comfortable around her and her relationship and connection ensures the highest standard of welfare and care of the horses and people present. The horses ALWAYS have the choice to attend and join in or not. Indeed we are mindful not to allow a horse to volunteer more than they should according to their health and needs. 

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Do horses also benefit from the sessions?

There are many people seeking help in an unconventional way and EFL is one such setting which attracts organic growth and development. There seems to be a need for people to recognise themselves on a deeper level and some say this is because people are recognizing the opportunity to expand into more.

As previously explained, this desire to connect with animals and horses in particular happens on a sensory level and can be measured in both parties (human and animals - see The HeartMath Institute website for more on this). So you see, the two-way communication with animals of felt!

The result of this connection which occurs within an EFL setting results in humans changing their perspective and we come to the realization of a new way of being. When we embody that learning and let that transition happen, the animals learn and evolve as well!

Humans and animals therefore both expand into new versions of themselves, however the prompt to expand comes from the human. Animals seem to be content to "show up" and offer themselves to come along for the ride, facilitate in our learning and benefit as a result!

Sun relaxing in the meadow with Mark

Is there evidence EFL works to promote well-being and improve resilience?

The is mounting evidence providing scientific validation and explanation as to how EFL heals. There are thousands of personal and professional accounts of how EFL and EFP has impacted the lives of both attendees and facilitators and the synchronicities and effects are sometimes referred to as "horse magic". 

The NHS lists evidence for the efficacy of EFL and EFP at the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) website and related articles can be viewed here:

We invite you to try Healing With Horses EFL for yourself and learn first hand what "Horse Magic" might mean to you and the impact this may have on your own well-being and relationships!

Creating and maintaining the centre and caring for the horses requires considerable resources. Please help us by donating or supporting us today? Thank you! x

Meet the Horses!



Holistic Reflections herd leader, matriarch, best friend to Turtle and gentle giant of the group!

Sun is a strong, compassionate and fair herd leader. She was born in 2002 and was bred to race. She is considered a 'thoroughbred' which is a type of horse chosen for speed and stamina. She came to us as a frightened and  emotionally exhausted young 3 year old mare following race training and we adopted her after realising she had a sensitive nature and required special care and attention.

Sun has suffered a number of serious health conditions and accidents, including laminitis and a tendinous tumour in her front leg which could have claimed her life. Against all odds, Sun is remarkably healthy, has developed resilience and is more robust than ever! She is pasture sound and helps people during EFL sessions when she feels she chooses and when is needed. Oftentimes she will distance herself from people and we 100% respect her wishes to do so. Sun teaches us to listen to and trust your intuition and have the confidence to stand up for what you believe. She also teaches awareness of boundaries and acceptance.

When the fancy takes her, Sun loves to run and feel free to make her own choices. Developing the Equicentral System will provide more opportunity to exercise her free will in keeping with her nature. Sun absolutely adores her food.  Carrots and apples as well as herbal treats seem to be her favourite! Sun can be very direct in her opinion but is one of the kindest and most loving beings we have ever had the pleasure of meeting!

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Equine team member, best friend to Sun and the horse who makes us all laugh every day!

Turtle was born in 2006 and started her racing career as a 3 year old. It became clear she was a horse who didn't really like her "job" much and would rather play and be free to do whatever she wants!

Turtle joined us as a 5 year old after experiencing performance and soundness issues. She was prone to displays of frustration and anger and was quick to tell the humans around her that she needed a different environment! As soon as Turtle was introduced to the herd, Sun took her "under her wing" and she has been Suns "shadow" and best friend ever since!

Turtle has a very playful and cheeky nature and is very expressive about how she feels. She loves to move and loves nothing more than to run around, standing on her back legs and simply whinnys with joy! Turtle has learned that humans can listen and show compassion and she is a great ambassador for ex-racehorses and for demonstrating the depth of character of these magnificent beings. Turtles teaches us to have joy and to explore our boundaries. She also teaches us self expression and to have the confidence to state your emotions and and accept and love who you are.

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The herd explorer, dancer and friend to those in need!

Flo was born in the autumn of 2003 as a result of an accident! She is 7/8ths Dutch Warmblood and has a very athletic movement desired by competitive riders. We backed her to be a ridden horse but we could feel she didn't want to or couldn't physically cope with being ridden, despite the vets encouragement to do so. Flo has been a non-ridden horse since she was 5. 

Flo has been with us since she was a filly foal and has a very delicate and sensitive constitution. She has struggled with chronic health conditions and was examined by several leading vets  as a youngster who all failed to diagnose her apparent weakness. Flo has taught us that the energy of the beings and environment can affect our health and those of the animals around us and for that we are very thankful. We have learned and are still learning to create together an environment which suits her constitution and supports her well being. Flo helps teach about self awareness, compassion and self care for before we can help others we need to know and help ourselves first.

Flo is the horse most likely to explore new objects and situations and volunteers to do so for the herd. She really enjoys walks around the forest. She loves to help people and other beings and will support others selflessly. As carers we need to be mindful of this and ensure she does not give more of herself than is good for her. She loves treats, especially apples and carrots and sniffing hair! When the mood takes her; she can display movement with such grace and joy it can bring us to tears!



Smallest herd member, the "cheeky pony" and EFL ambassador!

Nelly is a Connemara native breed of horse and tands around 13.3hh high which means he is actually a pony. He was born in 2000 and came to us as a 5 year old. He was unwanted and was not suitable as a childs pony as he simply didn't want to be ridden by children in the manner expected of him and he freely expressed this! 

Nelly lost an eye as a youngster but copes vey well with this. He is confident, independent and very self assured. His attitude sometimes creates drama in the herd and he prefers time alone with humans and loves walks out and doing activities. He volunteers for EFL sessions and can display tenderness and sensitivity as well as great exuberance and joy! One of his favourite activities is to wait until all the other horses have come back to the loafing area at the top of the hill then he squeals with delight and gallops flat out with his tail in the air with a real "look at me" attitude!

Like his herd members, Nelly is prone to laminitis and has a sensitive constitution. He has melanomas and can suffer breathing issues so we are careful about his diet and management.  Nelly teaches us daily that our challenges do not define us and that there is joy to be had every day! He also helps to teach us patience, acceptance and boundaries and will be very clear when you are not aware of or practicing this! He is a valued EFL team member and really enjoys working with people.



The herd member with the biggest heart who loves to eat and help teach leadership

Daffy is half Welsh Cob and half traditional gypsy vanner cob, born in 2004. He was mis-handled as a young colt and was labelled a "problem horse". He came to us to be "fixed" but we could see how sensitive and vulnerable he was to further abuse so he joined us as a yearling. 

Daffy has struggled with chronic health issues and he has taught us to find ways to provide a supportive environment which supports his optimum health. He is a giver, a trier and will willingly volunteer to help EFL sessions. We need to be extra careful he doesn't give too much of himself!

Daffy is a great teacher of energy and intention and will show you if you are not an energetic match to your intention. He has qualities which help people understand more about themselves and about leadership and is a valuable EFL team member. Daffy adores food and would like to eat grass and treats all day. He prefers to work in an enclosed environment and without the other horses. He loves to run around like a colt when the mood takes him and spins and bucks with loud snorts and a high tail! He is remarkably athletic and quick for a cob!

Would you like to become a member and help us help people, animals and the land? Your Membership also gives you upto 20% off Solution prices including Healing With Horses

Healing With Horses EFL Availability

Coming Soon!

From Spring 2020, Holistic Reflections will be offering Equine Facilitated Learning or EFL sessions from our HQ near Egremont. 

If you would like to learn more about Healing With Horses EFL click here. If you would like to learn more about our equine team members who help deliver this service, click here

Please subscribe to our newsletter (bottom) to be the first to book this incredible therapeutic service for you, your team or your family member.

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