Assertiveness

Assertiveness is a skill regularly referred to in social and communication skills training. Being assertive means being able to stand up for your own or other people's rights in a calm and positive way, without being either aggressive, or passively accepting 'wrong'. It means balancing respect for self and others. As assertive person will experience significantly less stress as this is a critical coping skill.

Click here to learn more about ASSERTIVENESS: how and why it's so important for healthy self and relationships.

Empathy: A Social Skills Activity for Youths

EMPATHY is the ability to :

 

In this type of activity, a participant may be asked to approach a horse with a "foreign object" without the horse moving away. Processing questions  might include: How did the client approach the horse? How did the horse respond? (Did the client notice the horse's response?) Why did that happen? Was the horse comfortable with the situation? What tells you that? Was the horse fearful? How do you know?  Does that happen elsewhere in your life? (at school, in clubs, on teams, etc.) Why does that happen? If you could give this horse a voice, what would it say? What advice would you give this horse?

 

Here's a sample of an activity to address empathy.

Communication Activity

Communication is both articulating AND listening. One of our favorite exercises is one called Colorful Communication. Participants are asked to take turns giving and taking specific directions in order to decorate a horse equally on both sides. It's usually both fun and insightful. 

Healthy Boundaries

Having healthy boundaries means “knowing and understanding what your limits are.”  Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill - essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life.

 

SELFIES: What our participants are learning about themselves

After each session, we ask participants to complete a "Selfie" - a brief but pointed inquiry to help them reflect on "what happened out there today."  See the links here for an idea of how this model works to help generalize HorsPlay experiences into life outside the arena. 

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Social and emotional skills come easy for sone but for others may need to be both modeled and taught. Click here for a simple survey for yourself or a youth in your life.  

Any of these challenges can be incorporated into our mounted or unmounted work. See below for examples of skills and related exercises: 

As seasoned facilitators, we structure activities to help clients explore various themes.

The possibilities are endless! 

Some exercises can be based solely on observations of horses amongst their herd (body language and other non-verbal communication methods), hierarchy and leadership roles, dominant vs aggressive behaviors, social bonds, play and more. Other activities might have a client or clients more physically engaged. Below are just a few examples of how a session might flow.