Horses Helping Humans, Hōiho Hāpai Hapori teaching valuable skills

Horses Helping Humans Taranaki, Hōiho Hāpai Hapori is a licensee of the Horses Helping Humans programme developed by Sue Spence in 2006.

Lead facilitator Laura Menzies says the programme uses a trauma-informed approach to teach body awareness by pairing a young person with a facilitator and a horse.

“By interacting with the horse, young people learn how to adjust their body language and breathing to regulate their emotions, improving their assertive communication skills and self-confidence.”

The flow of the programme intentionally aligns with a pōwhiri, and the programme itself has an optional additional component called Te Ara Whakamana which is “a circular framework that uses the Māori creation story, colour, imagery, narrative and cultural metaphors”.

“We then incorporate the Atua (gods) from the Te Ara Whakamana model into the programme. For example, we channel feeling like Rongo-mā-Tāne (the protector of crops and also the god of peace) when we are interacting with the horses.”

She says specific horsemanship exercises that involve no riding are used to teach taiohi how they can adjust their breathing and their body language to keep themselves calm, improve their assertive communication skills and enable them to make good decisions when under pressure.

Laura tracked the outcomes for the 2021 funded clients and noticed there was an improvement in self-confidence, emotional regulation, assertive communication skills, self-awareness, awareness of others and mental well-being.

“We have proven results with anxiety, aggression, low self-confidence and youth justice. We tracked the client’s outcomes for three to six months after the sessions and saw amazing sustained improvements.”

Laura says feedback from referrers has been very positive.

The full article can be found here:

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