All things are connected in the great circle of life - Chief Seattle
The magic of horses available for all
Equine Pathfinders Foundation was created to improve the wellbeing and success of individual children, youth, adults, and families, and the larger communities where they live, play, and work. Equine Pathfinders Foundation partners with organisations and their clients to achieve this purpose.
We also work with funders to underwrite programmes that allow many of those who otherwise could not engage with our horses and create positive change. It is the moving experiential nature of our work and its documented results that continue to bring people and funding to what we do.
We adhere to the standards of their professions and are personally and professionally committed to transmitting a high degree of cultural competence in their lives and in their work.
Herd Life - what a horse needs to thrive
In her book, A Lifetime of Soundness, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Hiltrud Strasser says that “most of the common health problems and lameness afflicting domestic horses are a direct result of man-made violations of their natural lifestyle, and can be prevented or cured through a removal of the cause and a return to natural lifestyle.”
In nature, horses are in virtual constant motion, foraging for food, moving to water, staying ahead of predators.
Conventional horse keeping has horses alone in stables when they much prefer to be out with the herd in wide open spaces where they can see predators coming. They are stood on soft bedding when their natural lifestyle is a preference for hard ground and virtually constant movement.
Browsing grasses and feeding hay at ground level, is the natural way for horses to eat - it keeps the respiratory system working properly.
Mother Nature designed horses to move ten to fifteen miles a day in the wild. When stood in one place to eat in a stable or small paddock their movement is severely restricted.
When horses are covered in rugs it confounds their natural ability to control their own internal body temperature. Shoeing eliminates the natural flexing of the hoof. The hoof in its natural state is designed to both cushion impact and pump blood through the hoof and back up the leg, taking load off the heart, providing a better circulatory system and better overall health. Bits in their mouth cause pain and interferes with the digestion/breathing process.
Sixty million years of genetics have embedded within the horse psyche that being with the herd means safety. Being away from the herd creates fear and emotional stress. Being in a stable or alone in a paddock does not replace the herd or give a horse a feeling of safety. Nor does it allow the opportunity for movement that makes for a much healthier, happier horse.
The Impact Horses Have On Humans
When under stress, the brain secretes high levels of cortisol, which leaves an individual in a constant state of “flight or fight.” Prolonged periods of stress, those with PTSD or other forms of trauma tend to, often unknowingly, stay in this zone for even longer periods of time.
There’s a physiological process that happens in the body when we’re around horses. The brain begins to secrete “happy hormones” such as dopamine and oxytocin. Horses have a larger electromagnetic current than humans and once a person steps into its field, blood pressure drops. The brain begins to develop new pathways of positive association, resulting in a starvation of the trauma pathways.
Praise Based Learning
Here at Dune Lakes Lodge Horse Inspired Learning Centre we explore praised based learning with horses to the fullest.
Here is Rhythm, our resident horse artist, first painting.
See our praised based liberty riding in action with Misty and Estelle.