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 https://herdinstitute.com/herd-practitioners/

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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!

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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!

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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: https://www.evidence.nhs.uk/search?pa=1&q=equine+assisted+therapy

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 tendino