In equine therapy, one fascinating concept vital in achieving successful outcomes is "horsenality." This innovative approach focuses on understanding and harnessing the unique personalities of horses to create transformative experiences for children and young adults undergoing equine-facilitated therapeutic sessions. By recognizing each horse's diverse traits and behaviors, therapists at Uinta can skillfully pair them with students based on their individual needs and challenges.
Horsenality is a term coined to describe the distinct personalities that horses exhibit. It categorizes these personalities into four main types: right-brain extrovert, left-brain extrovert, left-brain introvert, and right-brain introvert. Each horsenality type possesses specific characteristics that influence how they interact with humans and respond to various situations.
1. Right-Brain Extrovert:
Horses classified as right-brain extroverts are charismatic and outgoing. They tend to be adventurous and push boundaries, making them ideal for children who have experienced trauma leading to difficulties forming connections. These horses challenge children to set and maintain boundaries while building trust and establishing strong bonds.
2. Left-Brain Extrovert:
Left-brain extrovert horses exude confidence and assertiveness, often taking on leadership roles within a herd. These horses can be beneficial for individuals who may struggle with social interactions, such as students with high-functioning autism. The mirroring effect between the horse's dominant demeanor and the student’s social challenges can encourage the development of leadership skills and enhance social connections.
3. Left-Brain Introvert:
Calm and patient, left-brain introvert horses are well-suited for individuals who prefer to remain reserved and only focus on essential tasks. These horses provide a reassuring presence, always available when needed, allowing introverted youth and young adults to connect at their own pace and build trust and comfort.
4. Right-Brain Introvert:
Right-brain introvert horses tend to be more sensitive and cautious, often freezing in response to fear or uncertainty. Individuals who have experienced trauma that leaves them emotionally stuck can find solace in these horses. The shared experience of working through fear can help students process their emotions and move toward healing.
In Uinta’s equine therapy, matching the right horse with a new resident is an art and a science. Equine therapists carefully observe each horse's behavior and consider the individual’s unique circumstances, challenges, and therapeutic goals. By selecting a compatible horse based on horsenality, therapists create a foundation for meaningful interactions and growth.
The therapeutic bond between a person and their equine partner is decisive. Horses possess an innate ability to sense and respond to human emotions, providing a safe and non-judgmental space for children to explore their feelings and vulnerabilities. This connection often fosters emotional healing, boosts confidence, and enhances communication skills.
Horsenality is not just a theory; it is a dynamic tool that has proven to yield remarkable results in equine therapy. As the field continues to evolve, this approach will play an increasingly crucial role in tailoring therapeutic interventions to meet the unique needs of each individual and maximize the positive impact of equine-assisted sessions.
This concept celebrates the diversity of equine personalities and their potential to profoundly impact the lives of those healing with equine therapy. By understanding and embracing the unique aspects of horsenality, therapists, and caregivers can unlock the true potential of equine-assisted interventions, nurturing emotional growth and facilitating healing for children and young adults in need.
Lanae is the Admissions and Outreach Director at Uinta Academy. She has worked in Residential Treatment Center’s for over 10 years in a variety of roles including primary therapist, program director, program development and implementation, admissions, transition coach and aftercare specialist.