Equine Facilitated Learning
What is Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL)?
The word Equine means: a horse / relating to horses. Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) is a way of collaborating with horses that focuses on learning from and with them to deepen and empower our awareness of ourselves as embodied, energetic and relational beings. EFL exists within a relatively new field of equine practice that focuses less on what we can teach the horse and more on what we can learn from the horse as a leader and wisdom keeper in their own right. This equine field is referred to by several different names depending on who the equine specialist is and where they trained such as: Equine Assisted Practice/Learning (EAP/L), Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL), or Equine Assisted Growth and Development (EAGD).
Diedre West, owner of Healing with Horse Collective, speaks beautifully about this work:
“There is a distinction to be made here: equine specialists working in the realms of EAP/L see horses as the guides or sources of wisdom rather than as the learners in client interactions. Rather than their ability to be ridden or their athleticism being the focus, horses’ ways of being, seeing, and processing, and engaging with the world opens sources of wisdom and enlightenment about our inner selves, our relational dynamics, and all those forces that make us yearn, change, transform, and do things we would not otherwise do (whether creative, destructive, or genius) if we were truly logical, exclusively conscious beings.
That focus on horse as a sentient being full of wisdoms we do not have, distinguishes the goals for working with horses in this field from most every other equine field out there, including natural horsemanship and most liberty training. This is a profound shift about which practitioners find there is an onion-peeling sort of learning to get to the heart of, not just for our clients but for ourselves and our practice/facilitation.”
Our Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) Approach
Our Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) programming provides an educational and healing space for relating to the body, the energy of emotion and the somatic unconsious. Emotional energy is strong, wild and powerful. It can easily move us more deeply into experiences of connection, our relationship to our humanity and our interconnection with all of life. It can also just as easily spin us into dissociation, experiences of disconnection and perpetuation of violent thought and action. The direction this takes relies largely on the level of our community's initiation into working with the energy of emotion.
We are relational beings. The human nervous system evolved in social contexts and the navigation and management of our emotional energy must happen in relational spaces. It is through relationship that we engage with, harness, and/or mismanage a large portion of our personal and collective energetic power. Our emotional landscape directly informs how we unconsciously use or misuse that power. We can witness the ways we relate to power in a harmful way by simply looking at oppressive society we live in. Unprocessed trauma, pain, fear and grief in our psyches and tissues distorts our perception of ourselves, one another and the earth. In our illusion, we have not only attempted to destroy, enslave and exploit indigenous ways of knowing, but continue to inflict violence on all of life. At ELP, we believe that to move out of colonization, enslavement and oppressive paradigms we need contemporary education on rituals for relating to our emotions so that we can engage with power in a way that is rooted in consent.
Horses also work with emotional and somatic energy in relational spaces within their herds. As prey animals, their nervous systems are designed for heightened sensitivity and expanded perception. For hundreds of years horses have partnered with humans. And many horses have fallen victim to human's misuse of power through violent methods of training and domestication. But if we can learn to listen to them and meet them in partnership, they are offering to be teachers for us by bringing us into the wisdom of their emotionally intelligent and non-preditory nature. Horses can support us in developing a sacred and non-preditory relationship to power. Our Equine Facilitated Learning curriculum offers an embodied and intellectual understanding of how to collaborate in this healing and education with horses safely and in a way that is sensitive to trauma.
Our curriculum is designed to offer a structured and clear process for doing and understanding the work described above. This work is offered virtually and in-person at Ohana Farm in North Brookfield, MA. It is facilitated by Jamila Jackson in partnership with her Equine Co-Facilitator, Angus and his herd live and over zoom both in real time and with pre-recorded footage.
Our Equine Facilitated Learning curriculum weaves together three components to create private sessions and long term relationship building that has an experiential and healing approach:
1) Guidelines to listening, witnessing and empathic response: Learn and engage frameworks for listening and observing that cultivate specific ritual containers in which to perceive, honor and be present with feelings, sensations and emotions. We work within specific containers that honor both the verbal and non-verbal wisdom and stories of the body and earth.
2) Entering into ongoing healing and sacred relationship with the horses: Showing up to connect to horses as our teachers, friends and partners in an ongoing process of learning. The work we do with the horses is reciprocal, the horses share healing with us and we also share healing with them.
3) A ceremonial approach to acknowledging and relating to our own positions of power and privilege: We are working to embody a sacred and non predatory relationship to power that is rooted in deep listening and witnessing. Through a commitment to ongoing self-inquiry, our collaboration with horses aids in their justice and liberation as well as our own. We are committed to liberation that includes the horses and all other beings impacted by enslavement and domination.
Authentic Movement and Healing Ceremony
Private Sessions with Jamila and Angus at Ohana Farm
Our primary focus in this work is safety and connection. For 2 hours we will enter into a healing space together using mindfulness, breath work, movement and several specific listening and witnessing containers focused on bringing awareness to our own feelings and sensations as well as the presence of the horse, Angus. We will tune into ourselves, one another and to Angus. Our intention is to build a sense of connection and bonding between one another and with Angus. This process is in itself healing and empowering. We will learn about and practice safety around horses and safety around deep feeling. We will learn about the language of our own body, our own soul and the body and energy language of horses and nature. The better we get at listening to horses, the better we get at listening to our own bodies and ultimately our own souls. Over time as real relationship with Angus develops, we will explore the way the spirit of the horse enters and invokes our imagination. Through the wisdom of the horse, we will slowly and carefully engage in inquiry around consent and what it looks like to be in a sacred relationship to power.
See below for answers to possible questions you may have.
To set up a session or ask any questions please email Jamila at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for answers to possible questions about EFL in-person private sessions
Online EFL Spaces