See more course photos at the bottom.
What is the science behind equine assisted activities and therapy (EAAT)? That is the question we try to answer in the CSpH 5643 "Horse as Teacher" course. This blended (six weeks online with one week face-to-face) class highlights the science behind EAAT and how partnering with the horse can help the brain and body work together to bring about measurable positive outcomes.
Over the course of seven weeks students learn how EAAT can help to strengthen neuro-pathways that are compromised or injured. For example, in the EAAT modalities of Hippotherapy and/or Therapeutic Riding, when riding a horse the movement can provide a person opportunities to work on balance, coordination and self-confidence. And in addition to the physical benefits, students are introduced to how mental health professionals are discovering the psycho-social and emotional value of EAAT. For example, psycho-therapists can work with client and equine together to promote psychological benefits such as reducing fears, anxiety and building trust. Ultimately, whether physical and/or emotional outcomes are being targeted - the students have learned how the process is carefully designed with intentional standards of best practice and professional ethics to assure a mutual quality experience for both horse and client.
The class culminates at the Leatherdale Equine Center on the St. Paul campus with a final face-to-face session lead by guest expert Nina Ekholm Fry - the Director of Equine Programs at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection and Adjunct Professor at University of Denver where she leads the Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner Certificate program. Throughout the day, Ms. Ekholm demonstrates and explains how each of the EAAT modalities are expressed keeping the horse in mind at all times. Students afterwards said how they have a whole new appreciation for the field of EAAT and a new level of understanding and respect for animal welfare when it comes to such interventions.
If interested in this course it is being offered every other year so look for it again in 2020.