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How a Horse Can Help

Children in Canadian schools deal with the trauma and pain of being bullied every day. According to Pepler et al (1997), a child is bullied once every 25 minutes in Canadian classrooms and at an even more alarming rate of once every 7 minutes in school playgrounds. Bullying occurs so often that most people believe it is a normal part of childhood; something that happens to every child. The truth is that bullying is NOT alright, and it CAN be prevented.

This is where Equine Connection and other Equine Assisted Learning programs (EAL) can help. EAL is a powerful tool that can help give youth the skills they need to stand up to bullying and to heal. When youth work with horses, they are immediately put into a leadership position, and in order to be successful youth need to build their confidence up. Because of a horse’s herd behaviour, it is important for them to have a strong leader guiding them through life’s obstacles and this is why EAL can help children overcome the effects of bullying by showing them how to be confident leaders. For children that are the victims of bullying, building confidence and overcoming low self-esteem are the essential ingredients to begin the healing process.

Recently, a group of teenage girls from the Siksika Nation participated in Equine Connection’s programs and learned how powerful being a confident, sure and positive leader could be. When the girls began the program they were shy, quiet and nervous around the horses—although most people are a little nervous around a 1200 pound animal! As the girls progressed through the program and they began to get more comfortable around the horses, their confidence increased and a group of girls who spoke only in whispers began to share and speak openly with facilitators. By the end of their two months in Equine Connection programming, the girls’ leadership skills had grown to the point that horses would follow without the use of a lead rope or halter. It takes a great deal of confidence in one’s self to have a horse follow; evidence that Equine Assisted Learning can help youth overcome low self-esteem to become confident young adults.

Equine Connection is an Equine Assisted Learning program in Strathmore AB. EAL teaches youth life skills through horsemanship. Children in EAL programs learn about themselves and others with the assistance of horses. Horses are incredible teachers and can help us learn about: Leadership, Communication and Teamwork. For more information on Equine Assisted Learning or Equine Connection please visit


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