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What is Equine Assisted Learning?


Equine Assisted Learning is an experiential learning approach which promotes the development of LifeSkills through guided equine interactions. When explored, dsicovered  and practiced with horses, participants are then enabled to apply these gains to academic, personal/social or professional pursuits and/or challenges.




Efficacy – the power of capacity to produce a desired result
Flexibility – the ability to bend without breaking
Craftsmanship – seeking precision, mastery – performing with skill and dexterity
Interdependence – the quality or condition of being mutually reliant on each other
Consciousness – the state of being awake and aware, especially of something within one’s self


If you were to cite a particular challenge, or pattern of challenges, in your own experience or that of a friend, student or family member, you might find the answer -- the strength -- the solution - in one of these LifeSkill areas. Each and all of them can be addressed through HorsePlay - guided interactions with equines for experiential learning and growth.


Studies have suggested that engaging with horses improves life skills for people of all ages. Equine assisted learning is used to help young children identify body language and social cues, increase confidence, expand the ability to focus; heighten problem-solving skills and cope with challenge.  EAL is especially helpful to understand the importance of setting boundaries and respecting those of others, particularly empowering for teens.


By way of HorsePlay particpants may find they need to adjust their behaviors in order to accomplish a goal or achieve a desired outcome. With respect to efficacy and self-efficacy, when assigned an equine-activity, our clients often discover their inner navigator - and a sense of personal power that might otherwise have gone undeveloped. WIth respect to craftsmanship, we regularly see our participants take on a workmanlike approach to barn-life........ interested in cleaning stalls, sweeping aisleways, grooming horses with an attention to detail that surprises even themselves:)


Parents will find that learning to express expectations, setting consequences, and showing positive rewards to horses (aka their children) in appropriate ways can dramatically improve family dynamics.  By engaging in guided equine interactions, artists, writers and many others with creative pursuits can exercise risk-taking in a playful and safe way.


Just like human beings, horses are social animals and have defined roles within the herd. Instead of being alone, they like -and need - to be with other members of the herd. They also have unique moods, attitudes, and characteristics. That is why one approach with one horse may or may not be effective with another horse. There are times when one can become defiant and stubborn (just like some people!) Some behave aggresively and some more passivley. In this way, HorsePlay provides many opportunities for experiential learning and life-skill buidling, making EAL an effective tool when working with both everyday dynamics and the more challenging persons or groups:  peers, siblings, step-parents, teachers, employers and employees, coaches, blended families, spouses and even former-spouses.


Why horses?   Horses serve as powerful messengers that can present instant feedback, of what is working and not working, in an individual’s interaction with others and with one's self. Horses become our friends and our teachers in a non-judgemental way. Horses offer both a mirror and a window-effect to those who spend time with them. While working with a horse, an individual becomes more confident and at the same time gains insight to deal with other challenging and intimidating situations in life. 


EAL sessions take place in a spacious private area and does not involve any horseback riding. Activities may include grooming, walking and/or standing with the horse or attempting to move the horse or horses through patterns, obstacles etc. Clients don’t need to have any horse knowledge prior the session. 


How much does it cost?  Private sessions begin at $45. Group sessions and workshops are priced according to the number of participants and length of session. 

How to get started? Contact Cori Nichols at HorsePlay to schedule a farm visit and/or discuss EAL goals. Owner and EAL facilitator, Cori is a lifelong horsewoman and an EAGALA certified Equine Specialist (see She has been facilitating equine assisted learning and equine assisted psychotherapy in New York State since early 2013. She conducts both private EAL sessions as well as periodic workshops. Cori also pairs with behavior analysts, psychotherapists, special educators, life coaches, addictions counselors and social workers to meet the needs of any individual or group in search of personal and/or professional growth.


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