Bringing together Equine Assisted Learning & Equine Assisted Wellness

Poppy’s Haven is an Equine Assisted Learning & Wellness Centre dedicated to the preservation and protection of the Newfoundland Pony. We practice natural horsemanship where we recognize equines as sentient beings, as our co-facilitators in Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) & Equine Assisted Wellness (EAW).

Equine Assisted Learning & Wellness

Poppy’s Haven provides Equine Assisted Learning & Wellness programs with an opportunity to connect to nature, in service to our community. We strive to develop relevant programs that meet the specific needs of today in our area.

Newfoundland Ponies

Our farm is home to some very special Newfoundland Ponies. We act as stewards by caring and being responsible for the long-term mental, emotional and physical health of the Newfoundland Ponies that have been entrusted to our care.

What is Equine Assisted Learning?

Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is an experiential learning approach that teaches life skill such as leadership, teamwork, and communication using horses. Participants work on the ground with our Newfoundland Ponies through carefully designed fun obstacles and problem-solving exercises.

Horses are exceptional teachers. Acutely aware of their surroundings, horses are always present. They seek a calm, clear, confident leader. Horses work together in a herd as team, depending on one another for their survival, constantly communicating. Drawing on these same principles, at Poppy’s Haven our facilitators aid participants to harness the natural instincts and energy of our Newfoundland Ponies through research-based leadership and team-building exercises. Our Newfoundland Ponies gently guide participants through these experiential programs, providing continuous, honest feedback in a non-judgmental environment. Our certified facilitators observe the horses’ non-verbal communication and act as a translator and a guide, asking the participants reflective questions that encourages the attainment of each exercise and self-reflection.

What is Equine Assisted Wellness?

Equine Assisted Wellness (EAW) is an experiential approach that focuses on healing, personal growth, development, and learning using horses. It can involve a mental health professional to aid in achieving the goals. In EFW participants take the time to slow down, to attune to the environment, to ourselves, to each other and to the Newfoundland Ponies.

Horses teach us to be present without judgement, how to leave anxiety behind, how to find compassionate leadership, how to have patience, and a sense of fun. They remind us that the world is beautiful. Horses cause us to alter our way of looking at and engaging with the world. As the true teachers, horses help participants to grow and change and to restore connection. They know the real you under the layers. Horses are responsive to what is in the present moment, provide opportunities to become aware of our nervous system, our relational abilities, and the ‘stuck’ places in our lives.

Our facilitators guide participants to take the time to see what needs care and attention in their lives through group and individual programs. With the horses as our true teachers, participants allow themselves to slow down, to practice being rather than doing, to take time to rest and refill, to restore connection, in an environment where they are safe. Participants are guided through challenges such as anxiety, boundary setting, co- and self-regulation, mindfulness, and exploring personal experiences and relationships.

The lessons from the EAL and EAW programs transcend your time with the Newfoundland Ponies. They stay with you when you go home. They influence the way you engage with your family, friends, teammates, and coworkers.

EAL and EFW can benefit everyone. No riding or previous horse experience is required. All exercises are done from the ground with trained and qualified facilitators.

Our program is unique in that we bring together elements of both Equine Assisted Wellness (EAW) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL).

Why Horses?

Horses are used for wellness and assisted learning programs for a variety reasons including the following:

They are sentient beings

Horses are sentient beings, meaning they have the capacity to experience emotion, form attachments and have distinct personalities.

They offer a safe environment

Horses offer a safe environment. They do not judge. They provide honest, non-judgmental feedback that makes them exceptional teachers.

They are herd animals

Horses are herd animals. Their survival in the wild depends on the herd. Each horse has their own role within the herd, teaching us about teamwork.

They constantly communicate

Horses constantly communicate through their body language. Being around horses motivates us to be aware of our own communication patterns, and to better understand the communication patterns of others.

They are prey animals

Horses are prey animals (as opposed to predators). This causes to them to be naturally sensitive to their surroundings. They live in the present moment and react to stimulus provided by the participants, providing instant feedback. Their immediate feedback encourages us to be present and intentional, and to develop self- and co-regulation skills.

They seek a confident leader

Horses seek a confident leader. A trusted leader is critical to the herd’s survival, teaching us about our own leadership potential and to have confidence in ourselves.

In Gratitude

We are indebted to our photographer Robert Alexander, who has most graciously provided all our photographs on the website at no cost to help and promote the critically endangered Newfoundland Pony