Why the horse? There are a few reasons really. Horses are prey animals. Their inept ability to detect subtle changes in their surroundings makes them incredibly in tune with what’s going on. They provide immediate and honest feedback.
Research project with horses shows promising
November 3, 2016
In recognition of Global One Health Day, Dr. Darlene Chalmers of the U of R and her colleague,
Dr. Colleen Dell from the U of S, are releasing two fact sheets detailing research that their team undertook at addictions and mental health treatment sites in the Saskatchewan.
Although the programs differ at the two test sites, and cannot be easily compared, the data collected clearly showed that the clients experienced therapeutic benefits in their healing from their participation in equine assisted interventions.
“It is interesting to see the similarity in outcomes from the two different sites,” said Chalmers.
“One program is specifically EAL and one is EAP, but regardless, the clients participating in both felt love and support from the horses, which is an important and often overlooked element of human healing”. The research project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and was undertaken in partnership with Cartier Farms and Saskatoon Health Region’s Adult Mental Health & Addictions program.
“It is so important that we gain as much understanding as we can about the interventions that we offer,” said Dawn Rain, clinical social worker in the Adult Mental Health & Addictions Services, Saskatoon Health Region. “This research has confirmed what we felt we already knew from offering the equine program, but also raised questions to push us further. It also provided us with greater understanding for evaluating equine assisted interventions in the future.”
“Last year we release the findings of our canine specific work, and this year it is the horse specific work,” said Dell. “And doing this on Global One Health Day is a fantastic opportunity to add to the conversation in an important way about the interface of animals, humans and the environment to the well-being of everyone.”
The fact sheets are now available at:
Adult Mental Health & Addictions –xxx
Cartier Farms – xxx
For more information, contact:
Faculty of Social Work
University of Regina
Colleen Anne Dell
Research Chair in One Health and Wellness
Department of Sociology and School of Public Health
University of Saskatchewan
The Helping Horse
How Equine Assisted Learning Contributes to the Wellbeing of First Nations Youth in Treatment for Volatile Substance Misuse
There is growing interest in Canada about what is commonly referred to as horse therapy and treating individuals who problematically misuse volatile substances. Bringing the two topics together, our study examines if and how the Saskatchewan-based Cartier Farms Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) program contributes to the wellbeing of First Nations youth in treatment for volatile substance misuse (VSM) at the White Buffalo Youth Inhalant Treatment Program at Sturgeon Lake First Nation.
Our study is framed within the holistic bio-psycho social-spiritual framework of healing applied by the White Buffalo Youth Inhalant Treatment Centre. Its complimentarity with Cartier Farm’s EAL program addresses whether EAL contributes to the wellbeing of First Nations youth who misuse volatile substances; in theory it does. A case-study design was applied in our exploratory, community-based research project to specifically examine how EAL contributes to youths’ wellbeing.
Through the use of stories, which reflect a First Nations cultural approach to knowing, this study shares how the EAL horses, facilitators and program content contributed to youths’ wellbeing in multiple ways and to various extents. The youths’ experiences of the EAL program positively impacted the physical, mental/emotional, social, spiritual and cultural aspects of the youth, and the horse was a key helper to all of this:
The youth experienced physical wellbeing largely through physical touch and interacting with the horse;
The youth experienced social wellbeing primarily through developing relationships; bettering their communication; having an important new experience; and positive change in their behavior;
The youth experienced mental/emotional wellbeing mostly through increased self identity; increased self-worth; improved ability to problem solve; and more positive attitude;
The youth experienced spiritual wellbeing mainly through just being with the horse and developing a bond; The horse has a cultural significance for some First Nations youth in the EAL program. The horse offered the White Buffalo staff a tangible connection for teaching the youth about who they are.
Since the widely-played media clip in 1993 of Innu youth in Davis Inlet, Labrador getting high by sniffing gasoline, there has been on-going interest in effective ways to treat this health issue. Based on the findings of this study, key policy and practice implications warranting attention are:
Recognizing that the horse and First Nations culture are historically linked, and that there is room for further understanding about this in the context of EAL;
Acknowledging the lack of research in the EAL field, and with youth who misuse
volatile substances, and that the findings of this study show significant promise;
Valuing a multi-disciplinary, community based team approach to researching the diverse areas of EAL and VSM;
Practicing traditional First Nations ceremony to ensure a ‘good’ and respectful research process;
Being familiar with a case study design so that in-depth accounts of the EAL program can be communicated to decision makers for whom this is an unknown area; and Understanding that there is significant variation in how EAL is applied across programs and therefore a need for exploratory and evaluation studies designed specific to individual programs.
For information, visit: http://tinyurl.com/horseashealer