How we can help
About AEFL
AEFL is Australian Equine Facilitated Learning. This program has been established in Australia for over 10 years now and is it seeks to allow all participants (client, horse, spectator and facilitator) to experience the interaction in their own way, and at their own level, in a manner that gives them the most benefit. And it’s FUN!!!
EFL is a guided interaction between a horse (or a donkey) and a client, something which has been known to build self-esteem, confidence and focus for people of all walks of life. These people include (but is not limited to) people living with disabilities, trauma, adults at risk, those with mental health, cancer sufferers, aged care residents (including palliative care), youth at risk, depression,PTSD and ADHA . We also cater for people who wish to be involved with donkeys but are afraid of them – we build their confidence, whilst safety paramount for all concerned during any session. We are guided by the donkey (or horse), the participants goals and progress by aligning each session to suit. Care and safety is most important to our animals and all visitors to Happy Hooves Experience.
Therapeutic benefits of EFL
Sharing with a client the insight into herd dynamics can allow them to learn that their own behaviour will have a profound effect not just on the donkey but on people’s lives around them. The interaction between the donkey and the client is carefully overseen in a manner designed to bring forth confidence and self-esteem.
The presence of a therapy donkey seems to release previous perceptions that the client ( and often their families or carers) may have of themselves and allow them the opportunity to experience a new way of “being”. Good facilitators allow the clients the space to grow and expand into the potential and this is inspiring to all who experience it.
Children and adults exhibiting the following challenges have all responded well to positive interactions with horses and donkeys;
• Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Bi-Polar
• Down Syndrome (chromozonal deficiency )
• Depression, anxiety and PTSD
This list is for illustrative purpose only as many other challenges could also benefit from EFL, in essence ALL individuals can benefit from EFL in some way. Children and young adults have shown improvement in the following areas after participating in EFL;
Donkey's and Autism- what are the benefits?
With respect to horses, donkeys are smaller and calmer, slower, softer and more patient. This makes them ideal for kids, also because they have no problems being in contact with humans once they have established a feeling. All of these factors make them especially useful in rehabilitation of small children with autism. All people on the autism spectrum are affected to some degree in two main areas: social communication and repetitive patterns of behaviour. Autism is also often characterised by sensory sensitivities- spending time with a donkey can dramatically improve the lives of autistic children through stroking, groom, leading and riding.
Spending time with our donkeys
Our Happy Hooves Donkey Experience is a beautiful, friendly and cheerful interaction that almost every person whom comes into contact with these wonderful little animals, will leave with a laugh and a smile!! They are very addictive-just about everyone wants to own one! 'Plonka' and 'Wonka' are our two special little miniature donkeys, which already have made a name for themselves as ‘lovable’, ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’ amongst many facilities they have already visited including Camp Quality. 'Forrest' is the newest member to the family, he is super chilled, cuddly and just adorable.
We offer one on one ‘guided interactions’ for all those who might like the 'up close and personal' interaction which is completely guided by the participant and the donkey. As they are best mates, Plonka and Wonka go everywhere together and stick very close to one another, which is their natural instincts. They are humorous with their antics, cuddly and very friendly pint sized donkeys.
Being the size they are- a little bigger than a large dog, Plonka & Wonka have the confidence ability to go into aged care facilities, residential units for disabilities and to individual clients homes. The size too helps those whom may be a little overwhelmed by the size of some bigger animals Plonka and Wonka have the cuteness and kindness for clients of all ages.
For those who are light enough to ride a donkey, the benefits are huge. Children with autism for example, riding improves balance, co-ordination and strength not to mention fine motor skills. The rocking motion of the donkeys walk mimics the natural movement of the pelvis during walking and therefore trains the body to move in the correct way whilst also building muscle. Our ridden therapeutic sessions can be as comprehensive or as basic as required to facilitate the riders needs.
'Jindi' and 'Donnie' are father and son Australian Donkeys, which are a larger size and we have the ability for a client (weight restrictions apply) to ride under strict guidance by facilitators and safety equipment is supplied.
Mr Moe is our lovely blue eyed Quarter Horse, who has engaged with many clients over the years and he loves people..........and a carrot or two.
What does a session look like?
The following specific activities have been seen to produce improvements in the skills listed;
Grooming and stroking
• Cognitive, fine motor skills and focus
Groundwork & Leading
• Fine and gross motor skills, intent (emotional control), focus, balance and multi-tasking
Lunging- long reining
• Fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills and multi-tasking
Agility & Games
• Fine and gross motor skills, multi-tasking, focus, communication, respect and balance
Most clients will soon realise that excessive noise and/or motion confuses horses and will result in non-compliance with requests. Aggressive behaviour is also unproductive and the client must modify their energy levels and actions in order to achieve the desired responses from the horse.
Often when modified behaviour has resulted in successful interactions, the behaviour will continue after the client has left the yard or arena. Repeated sessions can result in much longer term effects. To be considered successful an EFL session really only has to leave the facilitator, client and horse with a good feeling. Anything else is a bonus!
What do our services include?
One on One Horse Skills Program.
Specialty 6 week program for those wishing to experience further advanced skills as their progression occurs and goals are to be advancing into more challenging interactions. This can involve: agility (guiding the donkey or horse through a maze of obstacles, which improves hand eye co-ordination, motor skills, confidence and this is extremely empowering), more hand on horse care (cleaning feet, understanding the biology of the horse and daily care) then onto 'Liberty'. Liberty f an empowering interaction for clients who have worked with a horse over a period of time. A mutual respect, understanding and rapport that is built between the client and the horse is profoundly empowering. When this has occurred, the client and the horse experience the most empowering activity of all.........Liberty Connection.  The client will have the confidence to maneuver a horse in a yard with no halter or rope to connect together........simply calmness.....this is Liberty.
One-on-one specially developed programs for a participant working with the EFL technique will also be  provided with an educational workbook the participant uses throughout the length of the arranged sessions (normally 6 weeks, 1 session per week) they bring this workbook along to each session and keep it for themselves to see their progress & reflection.This workbook is educational which helps with focus during a full program and is ‘homework’ to help keep the client 'thinking about their sessions' at home and have plenty of area to write their own thoughts and feelings to bring to the following session for discussion.
During each session, a participant learns about horse safety, well-being, the horses responses and the facilitator focuses on what the client wishes to achieve throughout the course. A support person is encouraged to be nearby during these interactions but is not actively involved, as this is a time for the participant and horse. A trained volunteer is available throughout most sessions to assist the facilitator if required. Any questions, please feel free to contact us.
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