About the Project

“The horses taught me things I thought I could never learn. The horses are exceptional teachers.” – Group 4 Participant

Building Internal Resilience Through Horses was a research-driven, community-based initiative founded on the expectation that hands-on equine-assisted learning programming, combined with trauma-informed psychoeducation, would help enhance participants’ internal resiliency resources, which would in turn contribute to their improved mental health outcomes and reduced risk of harm in the future.

Three primary objectives were foundational to the project:

  • Designing, delivering and evaluating through intervention research an innovative trauma- and violence-informed program for enhancing resilience of young women who have been exposed to family violence. The program is based on the multi-factor/multi-level model of resilience and utilizes the experiential modality of equine-assisted learning to help build personal capacities and coping skills for young survivors of interpersonal trauma.
  • Enhancing community capacity for resilience promotion and trauma- and violence-informed practice in Peterborough, Ontario and surrounding regions, thereby contributing to a resourceful local community that was better equipped to support survivors of family violence and to prevent future harm.
  • Promote the knowledge and use of trauma-informed approaches to building resilience on a broader, national and international scale. By documenting the program in manual and conducting vigorous intervention research, the project aimed to add to the growing body of empirical evidence on resilience interventions for youth, and on the use of EAL as a promising alternative modality for trauma survivors.

“I feel like everytime I come my depression goes away more and more.” – Group 12 Participant

cover of manual

Download the Building Internal Resilience Through Horses manual – a free community resource and guide for therapists, social workers, and equine program facilitators offering skills-based equine-assisted learning.