Does Equine Assisted Learning Create Emotionally Safe Learning Environments for At-Risk Youth?

Katie Cagle-Holtcamp, Molly Christine Nicodemus, Julie Parker, Mattie Helen Dunlap

Abstract


Equine assisted learning (EAL) is a form of experiential learning that is quickly growing in interest within the educational community. A challenge with experiential learning programs for at-risk youth is creating an emotionally safe environment that opens up the participants to learning. Nevertheless, EAL has been credited with the development of life skills in youth that promote educational achievement, but research tracking the development of emotional safety and learning, specifically associated with programming dedicated to educating participants about the horse, is limited. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine if EAL, with programming centered around equine education, will promote emotional safety and learning in at-risk youth. Youth labeled as at-risk participated in a 4-week EAL session focused on teaching participants horse behavior, management, handling, and riding, while incorporating the 4 themes of emotional safety (self-esteem, personal security, respect, and connectivity). To determine participant learning of the equine topics covered, a pre- and post-program test was given to each participant. Acquirement of the themes of emotional safety was tracked for each participant using weekly debriefing interviews. While this was the first time to perform this assessment protocol for evaluating learning and emotional safety in at-risk youth, the completion rate for both forms of assessment utilized in this study was 100%. Evaluation of debriefing interview answers and test scores from the equine knowledge questions showed improvement by the end of the session in both equine knowledge and emotional safety, particularly as it relates to personal security. These results suggest EAL, with programming directed towards educating the participant about the horse, promotes emotional safety and learning for at-risk youth.


Keywords


equine assisted learning; emotional safety; at-risk youth; equine therapy

Full Text:

PDF

References


AgriLife Extension. (2013). Texas 4-H horse quiz bowl supplement. Texas A&M System. Retrieved from http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Horse-Quiz-Bowl-Supplement.pdf

Bachi, K., Terkel, J., & Teichman, M. (2012). Equine-facilitated psychotherapy for at-risk adolescents: The influence on self-image, self-control and trust. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17(2), 298-312. doi:10.1177/1359104511404177

Bass, M. M., Duchowny, C. A., & Llabre, M. M. (2009). The effect of therapeutic horseback riding on social functioning in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(9), 1261-1267. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0734-3

Benton, S., Petr, L., Schneider, L., & Ivey, J. (2019). Effects of therapeutic riding on parental perceptions of mental and physical disability improvement. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 76, 115.

Bird, C. (1996). Mutual respect and neutral justification. Ethics, 107(1), 62-96.

Borgi, M., Loliva, D., Cerino, S., Chiarotti, F., Venerosi, A., Bramini, M., . . . Cirulli, F. (2016). Effectiveness of a standardized equine-assisted therapy program for children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(1), 1-9. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2530-6

Brandt, C. (2013). Equine-facilitated psychotherapy as a complementary treatment intervention. The Practitioner Scholar: Journal of Counseling and Professional Psychology, 2(1), 23-42.

Buning, R. J., Coble, C., & Kerwin, S. (2015). The progressive involvement of youth in niche sport: the perspective of youth participants and their parents. Journal of Amateur Sport, 1(1), 52-80. doi:10.17161/jas.v1i1.4921

Burgon, H. L. (2011). ‘Queen of the world’: Experiences of ‘at-risk’ young people participating in equine-assisted learning/therapy. Journal of Social Work Practice, 25(2), 165-183. doi:10.1080/02650533.2011.561304

Burgon, H. L. (2014). Equine-assisted therapy and learning with at-risk young people. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cagle-Holtcamp, K., Nicodemus, M., Gilmore, A., Christiansen, D., Galarneau, K., Phillips, T., . . . Sansing, W. (2019). Relationship between development of equine knowledge and feelings of emotional safety in college students enrolled in animal science courses [Abstract]. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 76, 111.

Certified Horsemanship Association. (2008). Horsemanship manual: Composite level 1, level 2, level 3, and level 4. Lexington, KY: Author.

Crocker, J., Luhtanen, R. K., Cooper, M. L., & Bouvrette, A. (2003). Contingencies of self-worth in college students: theory and measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(5), 894. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.85.5.894

Eagala. (2019). The global standard for equine assisted psychotherapy & personal development [Video]. Available from https://www.eagala.org

Evans, H., Nicodemus, M., Irvin, L., Brunson, C., Beckman, L., Memili, E., & Jousan, D. (2019). Volunteer impact in an equine assisted therapy program on confidence and knowledge in college students. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 76, 110. doi:10.1016/j.jevs.2019.03.164

Geller, S. M., & Porges, S. W. (2014). Therapeutic presence: Neurophysiological mechanisms mediating feeling safe in therapeutic relationships. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 24(3), 178. doi:10.1037/a0037511

Hall, T. M., Schaefer, C. E., & Kaduson, H. G. (2002). Fifteen effective play therapy techniques. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(6), 515-522. doi:10.1037//0735-7028.33.6.515

Hammer, C. J., Bach-Gorman, A. R., & Berg, E. I. (2019). Equine-assisted counseling as an intervention for undergraduate female college students experiencing anxiety. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 76, 118. doi:10.1016/j.jevs.2019.03.183

Harris, G. (2011, March 5). Talk doesn't pay, so psychiatry turns instead to drug therapy. New York Times, 6.

Heid, M. (2018, October 12). The loneliness epidemic. Time, Special Edition, Mental Health: A New Understanding, 16-21.

Henderson, K. A., Whitaker, L. S., Bialeschki, M. D., Scanlin, M. M., & Thurber, C. (2007). Summer camp experiences: Parental perceptions of youth development outcomes. Journal of family issues, 28(8), 987-1007.

Hopper, T. D., & Iwasaki, Y. (2017). Engagement of "at-risk" youth through meaningful leisure. Journal of Park & Recreation Administration, 35(1), 20-31. doi:10.18666/JPRA-2017-V35-I1-7289

Kagan, J. (2009). Loneliness: Human nature and the need for social connection [Review of the book Loneliness: Human nature and the need for social connection by J. Cacioppo & W. Patrick]. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166(3), 375-376. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2008.08091320

Kendall, E., & Maujean, A. (2015). Horse play: A brief psychological intervention for disengaged youths. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 10(1), 46-61. doi:10.1080/15401383.2014.962720

Lentini, J. A., & Knox, M. S. (2015). Equine-facilitated psychotherapy with children and adolescents: An update and literature review. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 10(3), 278-305. doi:10.1080/15401383.2015.1023916

Letiecq, B. L., Bailey, S. J., & Keller, J. A. (2007). Rural after-school programs: Meeting the needs of at-risk youth and their families. Journal of Youth Development, 2(2), 56-73. doi:10.5195/jyd.2007.346

Lutz, K. (2010). Horsemanship/humanship skills: how horses make us better people. Retrieved from PATH Intl. website: https://www.pathintl.org/images/pdf/conferences/national/

presentations%20for%20web/2011/Horsemanship-Humanship-Skills.pdf

McCann, A. (2018, July 17). States with the Most At-Risk Youth. WalletHub. Retrieved from https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-most-at-risk-youth/37280/

Maujean, A., Kendall, E., Lillan, R., Sharp, T., & Pringle, G. (2013). Connecting for health: Playing with horses as a therapeutic tool. Journal of Community Psychology, 41(4), 515-522. doi:10.1002/jcop.21547

National Center for Safe Supportive Learning Environments (2018). Emotional safety. Retrieved from https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/topic-research/safety/emotional-safety.

Nicodemus, M. C. (2019). Companion animal management: A guide to pet selection & care. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

Oaklander, M. (2018, October 12). Your pets are good for your health. Time, Special Edition, Mental Health: A New Understanding, 58-59.

Odendaal, J. S. (2000). Animal-assisted therapy—magic or medicine?. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 49(4), 275-280. doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(00)00183-5

Paone, T.R., Packman, J., Maddox, C., & Rothman, T. (2008). A school-based group activity therapy intervention with at-risk high school students as it relates to their moral reasoning. International Journal of Play Therapy, 17(1), 122-137. doi:10.1037/a0012582

PATH, Intl. (2017). EAAT Definitions. Retrieved from http://www.pathintl.org/resources-education/resources/eaat/193-eaat-definitions

Reilly, K. (2018, October 12). Depression on campus. Time, Special Edition, Mental Health: A New Understanding, 28-31.

Ruiz, F. J. (2012). Acceptance and commitment therapy versus traditional cognitive behavioral therapy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of current empirical evidence. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 12(3), 333-357.

Ryon, S. B., Early, K. W., & Kosloski, A. E. (2017). Community-based and family-focused alternatives to incarceration: A quasi-experimental evaluation of interventions for delinquent youth. Journal of Criminal Justice, 51, 59-66. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2017.06.002

Saunders-Ferguson, K., Barnett, R. V., Culen, G., & TenBroneck, S. (2008). Self-esteem assessment of adolescents involved in horsemanship activities. Journal of Extension, 46(2).

Short, M. E., Goetzel, R. Z., Pei, X., Tabrizi, M. J., Ozminkowski, R. J., Gibson, T. B., . . . Wilson, M. (2009). How accurate are self-reports? An analysis of self-reported healthcare utilization and absence when compared to administrative data. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine/ American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 51(7), 786-796. doi:10.1097/JOM.0b013e181a86671.

Thomas, L., Lytle, M., & Dammann, B. (2016). Transforming therapy through horses: Case stories of teaching the EAGALA model in action. Santaquin, UT: Eagala.

Ward, S. C., Whalon, K., Rusnak, K., Wendell, K., & Paschall, N. (2013). The association between therapeutic horseback riding and the social communication and sensory reactions of children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(9), 2190-2198. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1773-3

Wilson, S. J., & Lipsey, M. W. (2000). Wilderness challenge programs for delinquent youth: A meta-analysis of outcome evaluations. Evaluation and Program Planning. 23(1), 1-12. doi:10.1016/S0149-7189(99)00040-3




DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2019.727

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2019 Katie Cagle-Holtcamp, Molly Christine Nicodemus, Julie Parker, Mattie Helen Dunlap

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.