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Sunday, March 13, 2011

EAGALA Conference 2011

Layton Utah was the site for the 12th Annual Conference of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). There were Buffalo and Antelope nearby at Antelope Island, the Great Salt Lake; and tons of snow covered mountains! The entire airplane was full of skiers enjoying spring break skiing in the west. Even the head coach for the Eagles, Andy Reid was with us!

This year, instead of a full day at the Legacy Event Center where the demonstration  portion of the conference with horses was held, we had two half days!  With the second half of each day  being held at the Davis Conference Center,  I loved it because I am not fond of sitting in any one place all day!

We watched as experienced  Equine Assisted Psychotherapy teams used volunteers from the audience to participate in demonstrations; working with many populations. A team from South Africa shared a demonstration about "Healing the Diversity Divide through equine Assisted Learning" This experience allowed participants and observers to explore deep seated belief systems around differences.
Another team created a demonstration designed to move your business forward in an environment of economic recession! And a demonstration for teams who work in the field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to become more aware of using non-verbal interventions in experiential therapy. The Power and Principles of Ritual inside a session was explored, so was Suicide Prevention Awareness for Soldiers and at the end of the arena days with the horses was a "Beauty Pageant" designed to help people young and old with body image.

The local horses were fabulous both days, fully participating in and assisting each facilitation team in this powerful solution oriented work. They provided opportunities for us all to laugh, cry, gasp and watch in awe at how cleaver or how connected, or how smart the horses are.  As professionals, most of these horses are barrel racers who double as riding lesson horses and every weekday they participate in the arena assisting people in this work of growing and learning.

Back at the Conference center there were a wide array of topics to choose from for each 1.5 hour break out room.  In the Company of Horses was able to participate in such sessions as Anthropomorphism in all its forms; Low cost ways to market your business; Addiction programming; Grant writing presentations; Using Sand Tray Approaches in the Arena with Horses, The Impact of Perception; Current Research being conducted in the field of Equine Assisted Therapy; Horses Healing Trauma;  A Journey of Healing, Listening and Learning through Grief and  Boots in the Arena - How Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is helping returning Veterans and their families all over the world.

We had opportunities to network with people in our region and all over the world actively participating in Learning and Growing by way of the Horse. Gratefully I was acknowledged as one of the 12 people in the world who completed all of the requirements to become "Advanced Certified" in 2010!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tips for Understanding Horses

Body Language
So what is going on here? Are these horses mortal enemies?  Both horses have their ears back.  Clearly biting each other.  

One or two pieces of body language should not be taken as a clear signal for anything! Lets see if we can triangulate the body language.  We can see the language of the head (ears and mouth). Lets look at the rest of the body.  Can you see how their feet are grounded?  The horse doing the biting is actually standing with all four feet completely on the ground. The horse on the right has weight pretty equally on three legs and it looks like his foreleg is only lighter because of the position of his head or we might be able to say he is moving forward into the space of the horse on the left. How about their tails?  Are they relaxed and quiet or are they full of energy? 

 Next lets look at the energy of these two.  Is it mirrored in each other?  Does one have more energy than the other?  Is it moving forward, back, up or down or is it staying put?  We can look at this one still photo and see if these two have been sweating; indicating previous movement or high energy levels.  

Now lets look at this next photo;

What do you see here? Friends or enemies?  These horses have their ears back and one is biting the other.  Lets go ahead and triangulate the body language.
 Are their feet and legs grounded or are they moving?  The horse on the left only has two legs on the ground and the horse on the right has all four legs on the ground, but those hind legs are coiled up like springs ready to jettison into the space of the other horse. What about their energy? Is it high or low?  Are the horses mirroring one another? What about their tails?  Can you see the energy in the tail of the horse on the left?  If you could zoom in close on these two, you could see their coats look dry indicating perhaps they have not been sweating.  

The first photo is of two friends (geldings) who have lived together for years near Kalispel Montana.  The second photo is of wild stallions fighting in the Namib Desert in Africa. The most discernible difference in their body language is energy. 
 Follow the below link to an interesting article that links the effects of energy on the body.