Everything hard or stressful is not trauma…


The difference between trauma and stress and the difference between trauma in humans and "trauma" in non-humans The picture below shows the window of tolerance (and window of learning). This is the window in you that needs to be open enough for you to learn something new. It demands the factors – openness and tolerance to new information (but potentially also new situations, new environments, new beings (humans, non-humans) to relate to).  When you move too far to the left side in this picture (or bottom if you turn the picture around – a window has 4 frames…), you will gradually defend y...

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The other (species) – as a reference point in therapeutic work and personal growth


The beginning of an exploration… Why do we work with animals in therapy and learning programs? Having been involved in equine assisted therapy and learning for some years, as an equine professional, educator and mindfulness instructor – and as a client, this is what I think of it (right now…) To grow, to develop, to heal – we need "the other", that sees us, accepts us, accompanies, challenges and supports us – and at times comforts us, to help us see ourselves from their perspective.  Animals in Animal Assisted Activities of any kind are not different in these settings to what they are in...

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Horse, horse, horse, horse… he is a horse – and nothing else – but that is very much enough!


The woman, who had been feeling depressed for a long time, and felt she could not climb out of her own rabbit hole, and not really describe to her therapist what was "wrong" with her, had been offered to come and have equine-assisted therapy. She did not really know what that was, so she googled it. She found a lot of web pages describing facilities, therapists, organizations, and models telling about how fantastic equine-assisted therapy is. It seemed that finally, she was going to have some therapy that would help. She could read about how horses would be able to read her body language, how ...

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Understanding Experiential Learning as Situated Learning in EAP


To anthropomorphize – is the human ability to experience sentience and agency in another being (or object). It is the ability to sense another “self” in the one she meets. If she loses that ability, she gets disconnected from her own context, her own environment (including anyone being or object within it). Then everyone becomes objects – and the possibility to intersubjectivity (meetings between subjects/individuals) disappears. The ability to have shared experiences disappear. When this happens, you lose your personhood, and you are not able to grant personhood to someone else, regardless of if this being is a human, a horse, a computer.

To be able to anthropomorphize is to have the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is the ability to understand that they have another perspective, come from somewhere else, share the same world as you do, on a physical level, but lives in another world, their world, their umwelt. No matter if it is a human, a horse (and yes, or a computer).

Regarding the computer, we know and intellectually understand that a computer IS an object, but it does not stop us from many times treating it as if it is an agent, with its own will. We have a relationship with our computer (many of us), we get angry at it, impatient with it, frustrated with it – or happy with it – but for now – I will leave our human relationships with computers outside of this post).

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Everything. If we broaden Rewilding to include Rewilding of us humans. Which I think is absolutely necessary. In the bigger schemes of things – we cannot reverse the development of mass extinction and work towards diversity if we do not include working with the human psyche and mentality.

This is why we in MiMer work with our courses we call Rewild Your Heart. True and successful Rewilding depends on human awareness – of ourselves, how we function, what drives us, what our belief systems are and so on. We of course need species specific knowledge and knowledge about species environments and contexts, but without the puzzle piece that is us – humans – we will not succeed sustainably. I have looked at different Rewilding efforts of animals and nature, and their success rate all come down to how integrated the awareness of the huma component is.

So that is the start. The human, too, of course, is an animal. And since we have spread all over the globe, we impact everything. All environments are our environments. And everything that lives there needs to be able to co-exist with us. And we are the ones that need to make that happen. As we are the invasive species, and we tend to put our needs above all other species’ needs.

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…and on relationship building in general.

I hear, meet, speak to, more and more people who choose to fully remove themselves from almost any kind of interaction with horses (not so much other animals), and any kind of equine assisted interventions (EAI). Because they feel that the way we humans typically (and traditionally) are interacting, have been interacting – with horses, does not feel good to them, does not sit well with them.

I have struggled with this for years. To me it looks like plain avoidance. Instead of being, staying in a difficult relationship, that can be hard to navigate, but rewarding, many choose to give up, to remove themselves. And decides that humans are, in general “bad” for/to horses (and I often the reasoning is that unaware, highly emotional “clients” would be the worst humans for a horse to be around). But there are several different parts to this – from what I have seen and heard. Some of it has to do with convictions that us humans are not allowed to request anything from a horse. As they have not chosen to be here, with us. While I understand that argument, I also do not believe in one-sided relationships. In relationships, requests go both ways. As responses do.

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Ponderings related to the field of equine assisted interventions…

Something most therapists, even coaches or whomever work to help people feel better and grow aim at is for their clients to be able to take better care of themselves. Self-care is a topic at the center of many interventions. Or at least, part of them.

The point with self-care – as one can hear from the name – is that it is based on your own ability to care for yourself. Part of self-care can be to reach out and ask for help, but also to accept that when that help is not possible to be gotten, it does not say anything about the validity of your request.

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I work in the field of EAMH/L, as a provider, educator, and researcher. I am deeply passionate about my work. Because I know it works (and have a gotten deeper understanding of how it works), from my own experiences in the role of the client in EAMH. I spend much of my time thinking about this work, how we can improve it, develop it, do research about it, raise the standards of the educations that are provided and so on.

What I see today are two major phalanges in our field. One that still to a smaller or greater extent still ignores or pay very little attention to horse welfare, from the horse’s perspective. The other phalange moves towards questions like, is it even okay to do any kind of equine assisted work? Client work, is perhaps hurting horses? (with a focus on emotional harm).

I listen to all kinds of perspectives and views. I try to the best of my ability to put myself in different people’s shoes. And I ask myself, how is it to see our field, from their point of view?

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Unicorn Assisted Therapy


Or why we work with HORSES in EAP… *Trigger warning – to be read with personal and professional self-distance* Unicorn Unlimited is offering Unicorn Assisted Therapy (UAT) to everybody who wants to be healed. Come and meet our unicorns, and we promise you some magical and unforgettable moments. They will find what is broken in you and mend it. This they do by being in resonance with our ancestors, their ancestors, the earth, the universe, all spirits and all shamanic power that is "out there", and everything else magical and unexplainable. They will also send heart waves your way and cohere yo...

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Horses, emotions and feelings…


Or – can human feelings be dangerous to horses? In my experience horses have no problems when people are coming to them with strong emotions or feelings. That is, as long as the person is owning her own emotions or feelings and taking responsibility for them. (Note – to make it easier for me through the text, I refer to feelings as emotions you are cognitively aware of, and to emotions as the raw emotion that you can feel but can't yet cognitively understand/place/identify – but that you can learn to regulate. I also refer to the client, therapist and equine professional as her, and to th...

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I am an EMHP – an Equine Mental Health Professional…

20190624-DSC_7867 Reciprocity - Mutual grooming

Or – how do we get to know the inner life of horses? How do we really get to know them? How do we know what they feel? Experience? When I work in teams in equine assisted activities and therapies – this is what I am. I am an EMHP – an Equine Mental Health Professional. It took me 7 years to figure that out… or at least I am testing it out… I "went" from being an equine specialist to an equine cognitive scientist/professional – to just being an equine professional – and considering calling myself an equine behavioral professional, but stuck with just equine professional, EP. I think I a might c...

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From the mind to the bodymind, finding embodiment with and without horses

Embodiment with horses

I step into the presence of horses and a felt sense of release and increased awareness travels through my body. It is almost as if I could feel the body and the mind reaching their fingertips towards each other and finally finding a way to hold their hands again. At that moment, I ask myself, where was I just a moment ago? Am I really hanging out here, out and about, in the world, most of the time, cut up into bite-sized pieces, handling only one part at a time? The mind going on about its hassles and busy times somewhere out there, leaving the body alone to the playground like an oblivious pa...

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Why horses don't heal anyone


 Or why it isn't about healing at all... How do we "heal" from trauma? (that broadly speaking is anything that overwhelms you and you do not have "room" to contain, and therefor have to look at piece by piece until it is integrated in your life. It can be any hardships in life, broken relationships, deaths, sickness, injuries, accidents, war, natural disasters, robbery, an adverse childhood – just anything). If it is an old trauma (or series of traumas), you have used different defense and coping strategies that has served the purpose of protecting you from the trauma(s) and the pain and ...

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Giving the horse a sense of agency – positive equine welfare through Equine Assisted Therapies


 When we talk about horses in Equine Assisted Therapies, we are more often concerned with the negative impact meeting clients and dealing with their emotional hardship can have on them, than with the positive impact these meetings can have for their welfare and well-being. Before I continue. I'm an avid spokesperson for better equine welfare on all levels. To be able to call it welfare, I think it is necessary for equines to have their biological, as well as their social, emotional and cognitive needs, met. And my welfare standards are set high. So high, I can't reach them myself, for my ...

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