Can horses get traumatized?


... or why I am not an EMHP (Equine Mental Health Practitioner) … Yes. They can. Is the short answer.  The next question would be, do they get traumatized in the same way as humans? I am inclined to say no. Why? Because the horse mind is not the same as the human mind. Horses and humans share much of their CNS (Central Nervous System), as all mammals do. This means we biologically react in similar ways to stress, and thereby to trauma. This we know from research on "animal models" (which is a nicer way to say that we do all the research we are not ethically allowed to do on humans, o...

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Ponderings related to the field of equine assisted interventions…

Something most therapists, even coaches or whomever work to help people feel better and grow aim at is for their clients to be able to take better care of themselves. Self-care is a topic at the center of many interventions. Or at least, part of them.

The point with self-care – as one can hear from the name – is that it is based on your own ability to care for yourself. Part of self-care can be to reach out and ask for help, but also to accept that when that help is not possible to be gotten, it does not say anything about the validity of your request.

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I work in the field of EAMH/L, as a provider, educator, and researcher. I am deeply passionate about my work. Because I know it works (and have a gotten deeper understanding of how it works), from my own experiences in the role of the client in EAMH. I spend much of my time thinking about this work, how we can improve it, develop it, do research about it, raise the standards of the educations that are provided and so on.

What I see today are two major phalanges in our field. One that still to a smaller or greater extent still ignores or pay very little attention to horse welfare, from the horse’s perspective. The other phalange moves towards questions like, is it even okay to do any kind of equine assisted work? Client work, is perhaps hurting horses? (with a focus on emotional harm).

I listen to all kinds of perspectives and views. I try to the best of my ability to put myself in different people’s shoes. And I ask myself, how is it to see our field, from their point of view?

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Moving motivation

moving motivation

The other day I was puppy-proofing our apartment to be ready for our new furry family member and it got me thinking about the reasons for why I move, what motivates me in the process and what goals I enjoy working towards. These thoughts started running through my head as I was squatting underneath a table in the middle of my partner’s music equipment cable jungle. Organizing those cables in a tight space in between lots of sensitive “toys”, truly put my movement practice into something functional. There was a moment of “aha!” as I did my best to move in between the cables without tripping on anything and causing an expensive accident. There was a functional task with a goal: “organize and hide the cables”. The task required many odd and awkward positions, fluidity of movement, and precision, like playing “the cables are lava”. At that moment I was thankful for the movement practice I’ve done, as it makes these kinds of everyday tasks easier to do. Yes, that is the goal of my practice in general. 

Sometimes I forget why I practice, besides the obvious physical and psychological benefits. As sometimes, just knowing that it is good for the body-mind is not enough to get one moving. Lack of motivation is also a real thing for a movement enthusiast like me. That is where defining one’s motivation to move comes into the picture. For some, it is enough to get to practice simply because they want to be able to do e.g. a handstand or run a marathon. For others, like me, these types of goals may lack deeper meaning, and causes a struggle to consistently practice towards a goal that feels more like a “party-trick” (and don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that!) than something with “real-life value” or functionality. 

Motivation plays a big role in keeping a consistent movement practice. Having intrinsic motivation and -goal helps to keep the practice going on in the long term. 

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Unicorn Assisted Therapy


Or why we work with HORSES in EAP… *Trigger warning – to be read with personal and professional self-distance* Unicorn Unlimited is offering Unicorn Assisted Therapy (UAT) to everybody who wants to be healed. Come and meet our unicorns, and we promise you some magical and unforgettable moments. They will find what is broken in you and mend it. This they do by being in resonance with our ancestors, their ancestors, the earth, the universe, all spirits and all shamanic power that is "out there", and everything else magical and unexplainable. They will also send heart waves your way and cohere yo...

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What lies beyond training?

beyond training

In these times of thriving fitness industry and exercise hype, I find it interesting to look into how horses life and training regime is seen. Is it training that is in the center of attention or being a hrose? Is it exercise or is it movement? Sometimes thinking about horses is easier through thinking about humans. Sometimes it is the other way around. In this piece of text, sometimes, you can replace the word "horse" with "human" if you wish to look at it from that angle as well. I don't mean to say that horses and humans are the same but to express how at times it i...

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Remembering Ourselves and Observations


Both horses and humans respond to environmental changes, including changes in other individuals. Movement, new people, new sounds, new conditions can all affect how we and our horses behave. It is important, then, to recognize that our horses respond to changes in us, too. Horses are quiet herbivores who have evolved to be constantly observing their surroundings and their herd for changes. Anyone of them can signal the others to new conditions and they all learn to rely on each other for survival. In domestic conditions, we often keep our horses in smaller areas with fewer conspecifics, and so...

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The Importance of Time

just being in the pasture

I'm in the middle of a research study that asks participants to go out into the herd and spend time with horses without agendas or pre-determined activities. I have restrictions on the kinds of interactions they are allowed to have, but give them permission to approach the horses and let the horses approach them. But if the horse leaves, they are not allowed to pursue. There are lots of reasons why I'm doing this study. I want to look at how individual horse behavior changes with different associations with individuals and the choices participants make with regards to their interactions. They ...

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Thoughts on rewilding and human-horse parallels

rewilding you

Here we are, at the doorsteps of winter, welcoming holiday season once again. Are we appreciating the seasonal cycles and changes that come along with it? Instead of performing the holidays, can we allow ourselves to literally rest and digest? Ethics and welfare of equines touch us. We care. We study. We try our best to accommodate our hairy counterparts in our human environment. We begin to understand the natural needs of equines on different levels and find ways to facilitate the wild nature inside of domestication. We switch from single boxes to large pastures with friends. We let the horse...

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Giving the horse a sense of agency – positive equine welfare through Equine Assisted Therapies


 When we talk about horses in Equine Assisted Therapies, we are more often concerned with the negative impact meeting clients and dealing with their emotional hardship can have on them, than with the positive impact these meetings can have for their welfare and well-being. Before I continue. I'm an avid spokesperson for better equine welfare on all levels. To be able to call it welfare, I think it is necessary for equines to have their biological, as well as their social, emotional and cognitive needs, met. And my welfare standards are set high. So high, I can't reach them myself, for my ...

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