Compass Self Science Class Visits Amani Farm to Learn from Horses
February 18th, 2020
A recent equine therapy field trip started with cookies and a circle!
Last week, the Compass Self Science class went on a much anticipated field trip to Amani Farm to interact and learn from horses. With the guidance of Jill Cantor Lee, an equine facilitated learning specialist and psychological counselor and their teacher Pamela Barker, they participated in equine facilitated experiential learning. As innately social creatures, horses mirror what humans are feeling and can facilitate powerful personal exploration and transformation of behavior. When students enter the natural, mostly silent world of the horse, their verbal and non-verbal behavior is reflected back to them. They experience a “felt sense” of connection, trust, empathy, confidence, accountability, safety, and peace. This creates the ideal environment for social and emotional skill-building.
To prepare for this incredible opportunity, the class spent many weeks forming a cohesive group through cooperative activities; learning about emotions and their impact on self-regulation, decision-making, and problem-solving; studying the human brain–it’s development, patterns, and ability to change through neuroplasticity; and reflecting continuously on patterns of behavior and reactions that impact their success.
At the farm, Jill demonstrated how, with the language of the horse–body language, clear intention, and thinking in pictures–to become a “leader” in the herd. Students then had time to interact with the horses, and using this language while practicing the technique of “pressure-release” with their chosen horse–making “the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.” Students ended with collaborating on building an obstacle course and triumphantly and in teams leading their horses through it.
It was amazing to watch a calm focus and sense of pride and accomplishment settle among the students while working with their equine partners. All agreed we should visit Jill and her horses more often!