At Sagehill Stables just south of Winnipeg, students are learning more than how to ride, they are learning how to thrive. Their motivators and teachers are the horses themselves.
Husband and wife team Casey Oldershaw and Gwen Donohoe know firsthand how powerful the human-animal interaction can be. That’s why they decided to introduce ground-work programs to the stables.
The program, Equine Assisted Learning is not equine therapy though. Participants focus on ground activities with the horses, completing obstacle courses and working on problem solving exercises together.
WATCH: Horses are the teachers in these unique programs
According to The Academy of Equine Assisted Learning, who developed the programs, a 5-year research study with the University of Calgary, Saskatoon and Regina found that people who completed them gained more confidence, knowledge and developed skills that they could take into their everyday lives.
One of the courses is the Youth Anti-bullying Program which launched this summer, which teaches the importance of boundaries and how to interact with others in a healthy and positive way.
Donohoe said the program was created for kids who were either being bullied or who might engage in bullying others. The eight week course has been growing in popularity.
“The horses are really amazing teachers so these programs have been designed specifically for this type of life skills learning.”
Youth in the anti-bulling program work with the horses and each other with the overall goal of making positive changes in their behaviour, learning how to communicate effectively with others, accept responsibility and develop relationships.
The program also helps to combat issues such as behavioural disorders, low self-esteem, drug abuse and of course, bullying.
The Youth Anti-bullying Program, along with the other Equine Assisted Learning Programs, are open to anyone who wants to improve their overall wellbeing and more details can be found here.