In the past few decades, the psychotherapeutic, personal growth and coaching market has been flooded with a variety of modalities that advertise the incorporation of animals. Each of the approaches in this ever-evolving field has its own view about the role of equines and what they bring to the equation as so-called “herd and flight animals” that respond differently to their environment than humans.
In 2016, I was pondering horse-human interactions and the Equine Assisted/Facilitated Field in general, its growth, development, and most of all common problems. One of the many “problems” I saw is that there are so many providers, offering so many different types of approaches, that it is really confusing for clients to choose one over the other. Another “problem” I saw is that there are typically not sufficient funds for clients to attend sessions – and not sufficient funds for providers to provide the care for those who need it. Another “problem” I pondered is a lack of research backing up the efficacy of what we do – again, due to the diversity in our field. Which lead to another “problem” I could identify: the variety of (mis)conceptions about horses in general. Resulting in their plight in many situations. That last thought seemed to be the common thread between all the other questions...
It was a Sunday morning.
I stayed with that last thought for a while. “Minds-n-Motion” is the name of my company, and it embodies my work, my core values and my aim: for people and horses to think - together – with no difference between each regarding their value. Emotional safety and each participant’s well-being is very much in my focus. So it was just natural to extend that „viewpoint“: I was thinking of all the people I know who I would want to learn more from. A so-called “Schnapps-Idea” – formed: to gather people in one spot – providing room for all to be heard and respected. To not aim to provide answers, but room for questions and sharing knowledge. To learn from each other. And for all to benefit from it. A Symposium!
These were the beginnings of the Minds-n-Motion “A Horse is a Horse, of Course!?” Symposium.
Picking the title was easy. “A Horse is a Horse, of Course!?” is a common statement. It sounds like a platitude - but it really isn't. It contains both an answer and a question. A horse is, obviously, a horse, yet this statement or claim also contains a myriad of questions. Who is the horse? What do we know about the “horse”? How is our perception influenced by our theoretical models and paradigms? Do we really see “the horse”, and do we know what he needs? Do we ensure the “emotional safety” of the horses we work with? Do we understand welfare and wellness?
In order to explore what horses really are and how prevailing views of them can either be supported or enhanced, a call is going out again into the international community of equine interaction professionals offering equine-assisted or facilitated therapy, learning, coaching, or other similar interventions.
Mission: To improve the safety, care and well-being of horses, donkeys and mules in equine interaction programs through science, compassionate inquiry, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
Team: The symposium was the creative vision of Ilka Parent. In her quest to find a non-profit organization who will support her aim to distribute grants for research generated from income from the symposiums and the compendiums, she started a collaboration with MiMer, a Swedish non-profit organization..
Goal: The symposium is intended to create a platform for speakers and attendees alike to come together, discuss and share their knowledge on equines in general and equines in horse-human interactive programs. In addition to the symposium, a yearly compendium of papers containing the topics presented will be published. This will ensure that the information is more easily available. All proceeds will go towards funding future research and equine-based therapy services to clients in need.