EiT/L Level 2

Level 2 of EiT/L dives deeper into the mental/cognitive capacities of equines (foremost horses), the equine's perceptions and into the neurobiology of the equine central nervous system. This level also draws parallels between neurobiology and physiology and what we know about equine behaviors, in domestic horses and in wild/feral horses. To broaden the understanding of horses this level also explores how equines communicate (intentionally and unintentionally) and how this carries over into relationships with each other as well as with humans. Level 2 also integrates comparative psychology and physiology in order to explore where animals are similar, as being mammalian species, but also where they differ.

Level 2 contains the above theory, but also continues to emphasize your observational skills related to equine behavior and communication (both intraspecies and interspecies). As a result, this level involves practical work with horses and facility resources, observing and interacting with equines, and creating practice sessions. The days are designed to connect what was learned and discussed in the classroom with what is applied in practical work.

Practical work builds on what was learned in Level 1 and develops even greater observational skills and involves more structured/semi-structured horse-human interactions so that participants view multiple interactions of each dyad and practice recording observations. Participants practice looking for patterns for two reasons;

  1.  Relaying observations back to the treatment team to assist in reaching the proposed goals for the client.
  2. Looking at the horse behavior with a critical eye towards perspective and welfare.

The interaction and language that develops is a key factor in determining the effectiveness of the treatment and if it is in line with the goals. Knowing equine behavior and equine-human interactions is a critical component of looking at the interaction and knowing if it fits with therapeutic goals.
Topics covered include:

  • Overlaps and differences in human and horse ethology and how it applies to different EiT/L programs and models and practices/activities – specifically addressing the environment at the venue where the training is taking place and the effects of different facilities on horses and horse-human interactions.
  • EiT/L approaches to incorporating behavioral and emotional regulation (grounding/mindfulness).
  • Incorporating nature and the importance of nature/outdoors. Compare with indoor venues. Discuss options for working with horses and catering to the venue.
  • Emphasize the importance of knowing each horse individually. Each horse and human create a unique dyad and therefore a unique language that develops between them. The overlap in ethology and practical approach to using comparative physiology and comparative psychology to assist in the therapeutic process.
  • Different aspects of movement, in horses, between horses and between humans and horses:
    • Dynamic vs. static movement
    • Proprioception & interoception
    • Movement and emotions
      • EMDR and role of rhythm in general therapy and EiT/L programs – rhythmic touch/movement as it applies to both mounted and unmounted work.
    • Intercorporeality
      • What is it? What does it matter in EiT/L?
    • Synchrony & Shared coordination
      • What can we learn from dance and other rhythmic movement practices?
      • Why does it matter in EiT/L?
      • Importance of movement in horse relationships and how it parallels with human relationships
      • Movement like water – both horses and humans – moving together, not leading or pushing
    • Embodied Attunement & Kinesthetic Empathy
      • Role in client-patient relationship
    • Vestibular system
      • What is the role of it and how is it connected to emotional wellbeing?
      • How can we benefit from the stimulation of it?
    • Discuss ridden/mounted work and movement
    • Integration of emotional and behavioral regulation
  • Emotions as active regulators in behavior, movement, and intention and mediators in social interactions.
  • The role of emotions for both horse and human in the context of EiT/L based on client goals.
    • How emotions underlie and guide all cognitive processes including perception, attention, memory, thoughts, and behaviors.
    • The function of emotions and how they relate to self and the multiple roles and functions of a singular emotion.
    • Intersubjective regulation of movement within the context of a social group to identify the place and concept of community.
    • Intergenerational transfer of meaning in a culture to determine the importance of different knowledge and skills.
    • The neurobiology of emotions (will be covered more in-depth in the neurobiology section)
    • The importance of the social system on emotions for both horse and human
      • The role of fear of social exclusion
      • The ability to read others’ emotions in a group and how this influences individual emotional responses (species-specific behavioral patterns)
  • Comparative Physiology as it applies to the Central Nervous Systems (CNS) with regards to stress and hormonal regulators
  • Communication and Relationships
    • Equine behavior as communication - How horses communicate with each other and humans and how the communication evolves.
    • Initiating bonding/attachment, creating a common ground. The role of different kinds of imitation, (mimicking/mirroring), emulation etc.
    • Touch and its role in equine-equine relationships and equine-human relationships
    • Defining relationships and the science behind strategic, working, and friend relationships – how this applies to teams, clients, and horse-human interactions and its role in and out of sessions.
    • Maintaining bonding
    • The role of rhythmicality and sound in bonding/relating
    • The horse's ability to gaze following, joint attention, mutual attention/shared experiences
    • Social learning and its connection with bonding/attaching – how social beings learn and evolve.
  • Physiology, neurobiology and session structure – Introduction to how to structure an EiT/L session so it aligns with equine and human ethology, promoting welfare for both horse and human, and aligning activities with outcomes that promote welfare for all. (In-depth flow charts are developed in Level 3.)
    • The role of arousal and eustress (comparative physiology and psychology) in EiT/L
      • How it plays out in relationships (build trust through consistency, and safe predictability prior to engaging in mutual eustress – exploration and curiosity) the role of play and how that is beneficial and effective. Discuss how current models use horses and the pros and cons of both approaches when dealing with different clients and client goals/needs.
    • The role of physiology – Movement in both horses and humans and the importance of movement in EiT/L (dopamine, endogenous opioids, appetitive and consummatory based in neurobiology and what that means to individuals with anxiety, depression, and/or trauma)
      • Importance of timing when incorporating an activity
      • Structuring that activity – choosing horses, equipment, and setting based on-site and resources.
    • Comparative physiology of humans and horses in the muscular-skeletal system, digestion, and behavior. Importance of movement for both horses and humans with regards to psychological health.
    • Neurobiology – A deeper understanding of the effects of short and long-term stress on memory, learning, development, attachment, and behavior in both horses and humans. Looking at the hippocampus, amygdala, and dendritic responses and adaptations and how that affects behavior and connections.
    • Compassion Fatigue – or Burn-out – Addressing it in humans and the potential effect of therapist compassion fatigue on horses.

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