Generate and Grow Connection
At Generation Farms in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, we have developed a safe and informed method of working with humans and horses together for healing and wellness. We also value the nature setting we work within.
Horses are the largest of the domesticated animals that are truly social. Their quick responses and ability to read the inner state of another allow them to respond at a deep level to people who desire to learn with them. Their strength is not cognitive. They intervene naturally at the emotional and somatic level that can be difficult to access in traditional therapy. Change happens in the context of working in an informed way with horses and people together in a natural non-contrived way.
Some beliefs that underlie our work include:
- horses are sentient beings that are willing to join in connections with humans
- the natural attributes of the horse can create healing opportunities for humans
- neural integration requires non-cognitive, bottom up approaches
- the practices of the somatic psychologies and mindfulness are particularly suited to be adapted to working with horses and nature. This creates opportunities for neural integration
- somatic psychology, mindfulness principles and relational horsemanship as a base can create a guide to working safely and effectively with clients and horses together
- most people are affected in their daily lives by traumas big or small
- a trauma history does not need to be specifically identified for this approach to be effective
- there is a natural attraction to healing that can be stimulated by working outdoors and with nature and animals
- Somatic Psychology including the work of Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing), Stephen Porges (poly-vagal theory), Pat Ogden and Kekuni Minton (SensoriMotor Psychotherapy), Babette Rothschild, Robert Scaer and others who work through the body for healing trauma
- Relational horsemanship methods
- The Eponaquest Approach developed by Linda Kohanov
- The study of mindfulness and its application to mental health (Daniel Siegel, Jon Kabat-Zinn and others)
- The study of horses and their desire and willingness to be a part of the healing process
- Richard Louv, Joanna Macy and others who have reawakened us to the deep interconnections between our own health and well being and that of the planet
Horses join us in experiences that facilitate integration between cognition (our thoughts), emotion and the body while updating the nervous system to respond to the present moment. This approach is flexible and can be applied to practical horsemanship focused activities or deep reflective experiences depending on the needs and goals of the individual. While based on a trauma model, it is applicable to many areas of learning and growth.
The horses are given choice in how they join in this work, and often become healthier themselves through their participation. We support our horses to stay healthy and give them breaks or career changes as needed. Similarly, we work in partnership with the natural world we are a part of and remain conscious of finding ways we can sustain its well being.
Core practices include:
- Present moment focus
- Awareness of all the senses
- Grounding and resourcing
- Body awareness
- Bottom up processing
- Adding time; the pause
- Redirecting trauma stories
- Emotional congruence
- Working within a Window of Tolerance
- Shifting Focus/pendulating
- Working in incremental steps