"Horses don’t judge and they are present in the moment, so they are great for building interactions with.
You can easily read their responses to your behaviour and actions via their movements and can easily read body language which can be rewarding and encouraging. Horses and humans have a historical relationship that goes back over thousands of years. Neither horses nor humans would have evolved the way they have without the other and so the relationship between us is primal and natural and is easy to access once we have the opportunity and time. It can be a cathartic and empowering experience to interact with such a large animal that volunteers its companionship"
mASCot's Funding for our Equine Therapy Groups has come to an end so until we secure more funding please contact Sophie direct if you wish to self fund the Equine Therapy for you child.
What is Brookehaven?
- Brookehaven provides a therapeutic environment for children and young people.
- Brookehaven promotes horse-human interaction through different activities with the goal of a positive health outcome.
- Brookehaven tailors an Equine Assisted learning experience for the child or young person depending on their particular needs.
- Brookehaven is a private yard located in a quiet yet convenient location in Portslade, East Sussex.
Equine Assisted Learning
Equine assisted learning is for our mASCot autistic children and young adults:
Equine Assisted Learning is a learning approach that promotes the development of life skills for educational and personal goals through equine-assisted activities.
The approach integrates equine-human interaction that is guided by a planned learning experience to meet the identified goals or desires of the child/Young Person.
A session/activity may support the child/YP to become more aware and mindful and to harness intention and focus. It may help them to connect with their feelings and to see and explore fixed patterns and beliefs. A session may also support the child/YP to experiment with relationships and choices, develop new life skills and experiment with new ways of ‘being in the world’
Why Equines (Horses/Ponies)?
Horses can support us to understand ourselves better and have a positive impact on the body and mind. They make us feel happier and more relaxed which provides us with the opportunity to make positive changes to our thought or behavioural patterns that are otherwise limiting, distressing or harmful.
Horses live in the present moment and do not hide their emotions. They are emotionally congruent and can teach us much about ourselves and our relationships with others. They have a strong sense of belonging and live in constant connection with each other and have an instinctual and intuitive nature.
Supported by the horses, the children and young people can re-connect with their own instincts, feelings and intuition.
Horses sense and respond to thoughts as much as feelings and can remind us of the power of our thoughts and how they create our experience.
Positive effects of Therapeutic Equine Assisted Learning
Improves overall well‐being
Learn to develop trust, self‐confidence, self‐esteem, self-awareness, pleasure and a sense of accomplishment.
Proven to reduce anxiety and help relaxation whilst interacting with them will also improve fine and gross motor skills.
Can help to develop their communication skills, social skills, friendships, and confidence.
They can create new coping strategies and approaches as well as change established behaviour patterns.
Can support those who have difficulties with traditional schooling, special educational needs, poor literacy & numeracy skills, learning difficulties, behavioural difficulties, communication and speech, and those who have difficulty concentrating
Sophie has trained and owned horses and ponies for over 25 years. She has studied and worked in social care for over 12 years and has been a Social Worker in Fostering since 2019 and previously worked in children's homes.
Sophie is Mum to her 12-year-old daughter, Sophie grew up in a fostering household so has a wealth of knowledge of the behaviours and struggles looked after children and young people can face and is passionate in sharing the benefits that horses can bring.
Dee has over 30 years’ experience with horses and ponies and has 2 of her own. – Dee worked with vulnerable young people with learning and physical disabilities for 8 years.-Dee worked as a health care assistant for the NHS for 6 years. - Dee is Mum to 3 children.- Dee has a lot of work and personal experience with children who has autism and high anxiety and is very good at building rappors and helping children and young feel comfortable.
What do the sessions/activities look like?
The activities are tailored to meet the needs of the child/YP and remain flexible to be able to allow freedom of interaction between the horse and child/YP. The work is led by the child/YP, including their personal goals as well as their capabilities and emotional state on the day.
Emphasis is given to building on success and self-direction. A child/YP may do all of the activities or one depending on what is most useful to them that day. Each stage may be very quick or take a process of weeks to complete and this does not affect the value of the exercise. Some activities can be repeated on numerous occasions as the child/YP builds trust and confidence in their own abilities.
Activity 1- Observing the Horses/Ponies
Observing social interactions, body language and emotional states of the ponies. Ponies communicate in gesture and facial expression that can be easily observed and discussed. This part of the work helps the child to understand emotional language and social behaviour in the third person which makes it easier to acknowledge and understand in themselves and other humans too. This initial activity creates an opportunity for taking a mindful approach to observation of the self within the natural environment. It is an important opportunity to discuss safety around ponies and things to watch out for eg. ears back, facial expression, body language, etc
Activity 2- Identifying a Horse/Pony
This provides an opportunity to discuss choice and personality types in relation to both the child and the ponies. An assessment may be made as to the suitability of that pony on that day for that child. If it is a group then the horse will be chosen for them after a mood check on the ponies and an assessment made as to which pony/ponies would be most suitable.
Activity 3- Ground Handling
With the help of the facilitator (and pony handler in a group) the clients will learn to handle the pony on the ground. After a safety briefing this may include grooming, hoof care, health checks, mood checks, further discussions on body language and interactions with the pony. Interacting with a pony in close proximity is an exciting and often daunting prospect for clients who have not had the opportunity before and overcoming this initial anxiety is a great confidence builder. Being taught how to be responsible for the care of an animal as large and vulnerable as a pony/horse has the potential to foster nurturing and caring feelings as well as gratitude towards the pony for allowing this interaction.
Activity 4- Leading the Horse/Pony
The child will be given the opportunity to lead the pony. A pony will only follow a leader who has a clear sense of direction and purpose. The pony itself will give direct feedback about this in the present moment and gives the child an instant reward of their compliance when this state is achieved. From this the child can develop their sense of reaching a goal through intention, motivation and application of their learning. The pony chosen will be appropriate for the size and ability of the child/Children. The facilitator and / or pony handler will be available to assist / instruct as deemed necessary.
Activity 5- Setting a personal goal
Setting a personal goal. The child may be encouraged to think of or write down an undisclosed personal goal. Appropriate prompt questions will be provided for this activity.
Activity 6- Complete obstacles to reach a goal
The child’s personal goal may form the end point of a bespoke obstacle course set up for them to complete with the chosen pony. Or the goal may simply be to complete the course with as much conscious control of their own behaviour, body language, communication style, energy levels and the pony as possible. The course may include poles to walk around or over, cones to walk around, stopping points, bean bags, small cross poles to walk or trot over, etc. The course may be as simple as asking the pony to walk in a circle or do some simple horsemanship / ground work tasks. The course will be appropriate for the knowledge and ability of the child and the mood of the pony on the day. It may take many sessions to build up to certain tasks. Children will be encouraged to participate in course design, either as individuals or as part of a team exercise, as they progress with their understanding.