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Emma Simmons

Equine Facilitated Learning

For as long as I can remember, I have known - deeply and fully - that horses are good for us. They embody everything we strive for as humans; grace, dignity, strength, courage, gentleness, honesty - the list is endless. On top of that, they make us happy.


I remember as a child, being innocently aware of the unequivocally deep peace and contentment simply being with a horse brings. I just didn't know then that when I grew up it would be part of my role in life to help others to experience it and all the gifts and healing the horses bring us in abundance.


In 2009, I trained in EFL facilitation with leaders of the equine therapy world, Leigh Shambo and Kathleen Barry Ingram at Human Equine Alliances for Learning (HEAL) in Washington, USA. I learnt so much about myself as well as how to best facilitate the sacred healing space between other humans and horses.


Since then, I have worked with our own herd of resuced horses all all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and personalities to facilitate that peace and contentment I first felt as a child to others, of all ages and for many different reasons.


The horses have helped children to communicate and re-connect who had shut out the world and other people; children who were suffering from anxiety from being bullied and recurring nightmares to start sleeping soundly again with happy thoughts of their new equine friends; young people who were struggling with confidence and body-image issues to realise that the horses wanted to be with them because of their true character and authenticity; adults who were going through bereavement and challenges at home or work to let go and take steps into a brighter future with a new perspective as well as those who had experienced more extreme trauma and resulting post traumatic stress to readjust and start to heal in a way that nothing else had.


The basic premise of EFL is that horses want to connect with and cooperate with humans who are being themselves, being honest and being present. The feeling of a horse wanting to connect and cooperate is (as opposed to being forced to) is, in my opinion, one of the best feelings in the world. So basically, the more in touch with our true selves we become, the more 'in the moment' we are and the more congruent and authentic we are, the more the horse will want to be with us and connect. Of course there are many layers to the process but I feel that is the best way I can describe it's essence from my experience


In 2015, I facilitated an EFL workshop in partnership with the youth charity Second Chance in Bristol. The workshop for young people was part of the Dame Kelly Holmes "Get on Track" programme - a fantastic initiative to help young people to literally get back on track and find employment. We have also offered free EFL sessions where possible to children via a local charity.


As well as continuing private one-to-one EFL sessions (Spring and Summer months), we hope to be able to offer more equine experiences to those who would not normally have the opportunity to be with horses but would greatly benefit. We will also be offering group EFL workshops during Summer 2016.


Please get in touch if you would like to book an EFL session for yourself, your child or are an organisation who would like to discuss equine experience opportunites for groups or individuals.


The article below explains a bit more about how I work with our horses to bring healing and wholeness.




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