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Training the Trainers

One of the exciting opportunities for the Athena Herd team this year was being invited to train the onsite staff at Elysian Animal Assisted Therapy and Learning CIC (“Elysian”).  Elysian is an Animal Assisted Therapy and Learning provision based near Guildford in Surrey, UK. It received independent school registration in 2020. Their multi-disciplinary team facilitate important and powerful Education and Therapeutic placements for children and young people aged between 10 and 18 years.

We were asked to develop Equine Facilitated skills across the team and help them to introduce more non-ridden exercises for the Young People attending the centre.

It was a unique challenge for us. The team had very differing levels of experience, with some staff already practicing in Equine Facilitated work, some working traditionally with horses and others with essentially no experience of horses at all.

We had agreed to deliver our ACCPH Accredited Certificate in Equine Facilitated Learning, which is how we began our journey with the team.  By day two, we were working together to adapt ideas based on the skills in the room and the resources on site. As well as shaping things around the needs of the centre and its young people.

We always emphasise that our job is to build on the skills of those we work with and help them to develop the new practices. This was no exception. In the circumstances, we had to think on our feet to help them create approaches that could be delivered by horsey and non-horsey team members alike.

It is always a pleasure to watch the journeys of those who attend our courses. In this case, it was particularly rewarding to watch equine staff find new ways to interact with horses, as well as the non-horsey members of the team developing the confidence to work up close with the horses.

Here are some reflections from the Elysian team:

“It provided a safe space for the team to take a pause and build on relationships and understand the importance of connection with horses”

“Having practical sessions to back up the theory. Having the chance to practice facilitating sessions”

“I’ve learned lots and can’t wait to put my learning into practice with our young people.”

“The course was fantastic and insightful!”

We always say that we learn with every client programme. We always say that the learning begins as soon as we meet the horses. These few days were no exception. Together with the group we created safe and simple foundations from which to build effective learning. Both for them, and some new perspectives for ourselves. We are certain that some of our learning from these days will find its way into future Athena Herd programmes.

Another great opportunity for us was to join Esther from the Elysian team on her podcast to talk about the value for young people in having animals and pets in their lives.