A Little Taste of EAL

A mother, looking out for the best in her children, hears about Niemi EAL from a friend, and gives me a call. During the call, she asks me some basic questions, but really, she is curious about how effective our programs are. She has a 9 year old girl and a 14 year old boy who do not want to spend time with each other. They used to be so easy going but recently something changed.

I happily answer her questions and I let her know that it seems like a situation where the horses could help. After talking with me, she has a new found hope and talks to her husband about her excitement. She books the next program available for her children. It is a 12 week program that teaches the siblings, different life skills every week. 

She brings her children to the first lesson. I welcome them excitedly, chat a little bit, and as always, the waiver forms get signed, and I give the children, their helmets and nametags. The mother then  happily steps aside so that we can begin our lesson. 

In the first class of every long program, I start with discussing farm rules, we have a safety demonstration, and generate positive interactions. 

The farm rules are pretty basic. Stay inside the arena at all times, unless you are given permission to go to the washroom.

The safety demonstration consists of me showing the students different blindspots for the horse(under his belly, his neck, and behind him), and asking “what’s wrong with this? And how should I do this?”. The siblings watch with amazement. I tie up the horse to the wall, and I go back to the front of the class.

The first lesson of the program is all about building relationships, and learning about the horses personality. We discuss how to start building a relationship with horses. And after that about building relationships with ourselves. I let them know that they are going to watch the personality of the horse they work with, because we are going to talk about it afterward. Throughout the brief, they interact pretty well. The last bit of information is that there is an objective card at every station. 

Then the fun starts!

They seem excited and a little nervous to be with the horses. The obstacle courses are all set up, and the siblings can start the experience. They are pretty simple stations, but the perfect start to their journey. I untie the horse, and the children come to receive the horse. Then, I ask them who wants to lead him first, and the older boy eagerly takes the horse. The younger sister goes to stand beside him. They start petting him, and I can tell how they both relax a little more. 

Throughout the stations, the brother and sister take turns leading the horse. They work together amazingly, like there was nothing between them before. I encourage them to be evaluating the horse’s personality. The sister gets an integrity clip, and she gets even more excited than before, and the children continue to work as a team with the horse. 

Once they finish up, we tie the horse up, and we go back to the classroom. I ask each of them how their first day went. I also ask them what they thought about horses. Then we talk about the horse's personality and the siblings list all of the different things that they noticed in the horse. The last thing we discuss is how horses have different personalities just like humans. 

Their mom comes back, and I tell her how amazing her children were. The daughter proudly says “Mom! I even got an integrity clip!!!” I thank her for bringing her children and tell them how excited I am to see them back the following week. 

On the way home she finds out how good it was. The children talk like crazy and she, as a mom, is overjoyed. Over the twelve week period, their home is a different place. They have fun together, talk about the special horses, and most importantly, spend time together, as a family.

It was a great decision to bring her children to Niemi Equine Assisted Learning!



This is an example story of what can happen in the EAL program.

Equine Assisted Learning is for ANYONE and the experience is incredible!