Equine Relief for First Responders

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

This unique equine experiential learning program is tailored to meet the needs of first responders who are experiencing job-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — including fire, police, paramedics, health care professionals, and others working with people experiencing trauma.

Called Equine Relief for First Responders, this one-day workshop is offered to assist first responders cope with PTSD. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, PTSD is caused by a psychologically traumatic event involving actual or threatened death or serious injury to oneself or others. It can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-altering events such as serious accidents, physical and sexual assault. PTSD can be triggered by a single traumatic event or it results from an accumulation of trauma that builds up over time.

The Equine Relief for First Responders workshop offers participants with an opportunity to:

  • Acknowledge the real, internal and personal impact of the repercussions of the first responder role on themselves and those around them
  • Learn to use emotion as information, while creating greater understanding for their personal tolerance level in working with a variety of emotions
  • Learn to respond most effectively at work and at home to personal and professional triggers, receiving tools to help manage stress and tension on the job
  • Learn to manage the personal impact of experiences that naturally builds up from first responder engagements.

This workshop recognizes the growing body of experience that supports the notion of horse-based experiential learning — especially for people who don’t naturally resonate towards talk therapies. With facilitated equine experiential learning, the activities with the horses become a metaphor for what is happening in the participant’s life and provide a mirror to reflect back information about their personality style, leadership style, communication style and coping responses. In this space, participants can explore their fears, build trust in themselves and others and develop their skills in a supportive and non-threatening environment away from the workplace.

In order to manage overwhelming events, feelings, thoughts and perceptions, most humans leave a part of themselves behind. Although this helps us in the short term, it inevitably separates us from vitally needed internal and external resources and support. Horses are natural healers in the process of reconnection, they see what we do not, guide us back to our truth and help us find the core strength and resiliency to meet the challenges in our lives.

No previous horse experience is required to participate in the workshop. All activities are done on the ground and facilitated in partnership with the horses. For details or to book this one-day workshop for a group of  your team members, contact: Jennifer Garland at 705-295-6618.

A grateful shout out to CHEX-TV reporter Steve Guthrie for his story on our Equine Relief for First Responders Workshop. Check it out here: