Equine Assisted Processes

All Equine Assisted Activities are from the ground, and no horse riding is involved.

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A variety of programs provide the space for you to choose which experience will support you best!

We focus on identifying and addressing limiting belief-systems and hidden saboteurs that lead to everyday blind-spots and ineffective habits.

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All programs are hosted at Equistria Therapeutic Development Centre, and our Equine Assisted Processes are structured to provide an interactive, non-judgemental space, where individuals can explore what works for them, while they are challenged with metaphorical everyday situations. The unique support system, in the form of honest feedback from the horses and facilitators, can identify, address and transform everyday obstacles and frustrations to a life of synchronistic flow and emotional well-being.

Awareness creates Empowerment!

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These Processes are extremely powerful and provide a platform with options to come back to for support, as things present in live. It continuously allows you to find your own truth, in order to make better choices during the different phases of your life!

The journey of growth can be an interesting and exciting adventure!

What is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning?

The equine assisted activities require in-the-moment interaction, which provide participants with the opportunity to apply everyday life skills, in the moment.

Horses in combination with a scientific mental health approach becomes the catalyst to raise self-awareness and promote personal growth

Equine assisted psychotherapy is done with a mental health specialist and horse behavior specialist, who sets up ground activities, involving horses in combination with a scientific mental health approach. This combination is used as a catalyst to promote personal growth, raise self-awareness and assist self-reflection. Equine assisted learning works on the same principles, but focuses more on personal growth.

The equine assisted process is intense, and effectively develops non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem-solving, leadership, confidence, taking responsibility, relationship skills and above all else, being authentic.
Horses are used for very specific reasons
  • Horses sense & respond to participants’ intentions, emotions & thoughts, which are conveyed subconsciously, through body language.
  • As prey animals, horses’ “flight” instincts, become instant mirrors & non-judgmental feedback mechanisms for humans. When participants change their belief system, horses respond differently.
  • Activities with the horses are highly interactive & provide “in the moment” learning experiences, which can be difficult to acquire in a more traditional setting.
  • Connecting with & directing a thousand-pound animal, in spite of fears & uncertainty, while standing on the ground, gives an incredible boost to participants’ confidence
Why can this be potentially life-changing?

The horses serve as a catalyst to greater awareness of ineffective habits and the choice to become more consistent and congruent in everyday life experiences.

When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge…
  • This experience is structured to bring about effective action, improved behavioural patterns and personal growth for the individual, as well as understanding of others around you.
  • The activities are designed to create metaphors representing ‘real life’ & the horses mirror the effectiveness of patterns, providing opportunities to become aware of actions, especially when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.
  • Interaction with the horses create natural opportunities to overcome uncertainty and develop confidence, which support participants to learn more effective behaviours & gain personal power & respect.
  • By observing & experiencing the horse’s response to their interactions, participants learn how to communicate more effectively & become more consistent & congruent in their actions.
  • The observations create self-awareness, which increase the depth of the participants’ emotional intelligence.
  • Participants experience life-changing breakthroughs, when interaction with the horses, reveals their blind spots.
Why utilise this opportunity?
  • It’s a unique non-judgemental outside perspective, almost like when another person can see what’s going on, on your back, while you would need 2 mirrors to see the same.
  • It’s the process of assessing existing thoughts & emotions, observing behavioural patterns and discerning hidden saboteurs.
  • It provides greater focus & awareness of choice, through the process of becoming aware of the way you currently interpret the world around you.
  • It’s a thought provoking & creative process, which can inspire you to maximise your personal potential and to improve quality of life.
  • It provides the opportunity to identify & interpret feedback as a way of finding what is blocking you from your goals.
  • It’s a process of empowerment, where the feedback can direct your energies to solutions, with the understanding that there is a positive intention behind every behaviour & that there is no such thing as failure, but only feedback.
How do I know the facilitator is an expert?

The facilitator:

  • must be able to hold the space for the client to experience the horse as the catalyst.
  • must be able to make micro observations and give it back in a clear way, without interfering with the process.
  • must be able to read between the lines and provide structure, without transference.
  • must be able to expands people’s awareness through powerful, thought-provoking questions.
  • MUST do continuous inner work on themselves!
Why use horses?

Horses cannot lie, and they respond with extremely well-developed mirror neurons, while interacting with people.

Horses become instant mirrors and non-judgemental bio-feedback mechanisms for humans

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We use horses for very specific reasons
  • Horses sense & respond to participants’ intentions, emotions & thoughts, which are conveyed subconsciously, through body language.
  • As prey animals, horses’ “flight” instincts, become instant mirrors & non-judgmental feedback mechanisms for humans. When participants change their belief system, horses respond differently.
  • Activities with these horses are highly interactive & provide “in the moment” learning experiences, which can be difficult to acquire in a more traditional setting.
  • Connecting with & directing a thousand-pound animal, in spite of fears & uncertainty, while standing on the ground, gives an incredible boost to participants’ confidence
  • In an era of immediate gratification, horses require participants to engage in physical, emotional and mental work to be successful, a valuable characteristic in all aspects of life.
About the herd
  • As the horse behaviour specialist, you need to know your herd of horses & have a real sense of the default responses of each horse in different situations…
  • Horses used in this setting, must be healthy –physically, emotionally & mentally- as this work centres on the natural responses of horses. Dead-broke/bomb-proof horses are not good choices, as their natural instincts have been deliberately squelched.
  • Horses need to be balanced and well-adjusted in their herd and are not trained to do this work. The horses’ backgrounds and emotional health are very important in this setting.
  • The horses must have choices in the sessions, in order for them to offer honest feedback cleanly & without interference, as they are seen as partners in this work.
  • The most important qualities in selecting appropriate horses are horses solid in mind, body & spirit, with their natural instincts intact. A varied herd to choose from is best with a variety of sizes, colours, breeds & personalities.
  • How horses are cared for outside of sessions, impacts their fitness for this work. Horses will be less stressed, when they are turned out in herds & cared for as naturally as possible.

The scientific and energetic explanations of the power of the equine assisted process is still difficult to explain to the public and it is the one of the director’s missions to demystify the field of quantum physics and energy medicine in the form of schematic books.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning develops…
  • Communication
  • Personal discovery
  • Group dynamics
  • Creativity
  • Assertiveness
  • Flexibility
  • Crisis management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Team building
  • Leadership development
  • Promotes self-awareness and reflection
  • Increases self-esteem and confidence
  • Promotes communication skills, especially non-verbal communication
  • Helps with identifying strengths
  • Improves relationships
  • Gives a sense of responsibility to self and others
  • Develops self-discipline
  • Increases problem-solving skills
  • Promotes assertiveness
  • Develops trust and respect
  • Helps with focusing and working under pressure
  • Promotes leadership and teamwork skills
  • Gives opportunities for fun and humor

Equine Assisted Processes Testimonials

I grew up with horses and different horse sports and although I always believed in the benefits horses had to offer, I never realised the true unlimited potential and powerful impact they have in just being themselves. My mind was blown open when I experienced how they respond to our emotions and thoughts, which are conveyed subconsciously, through body language and mirror-neurons, to become instant mirrors. They are truly the most pure, non-judgemental feedback mechanisms to show us how to shift to new levels of truth and freedom. If anyone ever question synchronicity and the interconnectedness of the universe, this is where you can experience this phenomenon first hand. I have the privilege of witnessing the miracle of synchronicity and its positive spin off, every day of my life.

Marie Olivier


For me the power in the Equine Assisted Process lies in the fact that a space is created, where I am allowed to form my own opinions based on my interaction with the horses and the team, and the questions that is being asked

Member of the MTN team


I was impressed by the way the horses clearly showed what was going on in the group dynamics and the clean observations pointed out by the facilitators. The combination of simple, but powerful questions and the interaction with the horses lead us to amazing insights and solutions.

Oranje Meisie Skool teacher


Dit was ‘n ongelooflike ervaring. Die span het soveel meer geleer van mekaar asook elke individu van haarself. Ons het ‘n band op ‘n  dieper emosionele vlak gevorm as wat enige van ons nog ooit van tevore ervaar het. Dit is ongelooflik hoe die perde emosies uit ons kon uitbring wat ons nie eers geweet het ons het nie. Dit was defnitief ‘n onvergeetlike ervaring en almal behoort dit ten minste een keer in hulle lewe te ervaar.Dit sal een van die hoogtepunte van ons jaar bly!

Zelda Jordaan

Kaptein, Sentraal, Top 14 Netbal

The Equine Assisted Program was so powerful that some members of the team realised they are not doing the company or themselves justice by staying in a comfort zone.



I have never been for horse therapy in my life. It was a life changing 3 weeks for me. The horses feel your emotions, and it also helps you to connect with your inner emotions. They teach you to get your self-image and confidence back. The facilitators use the horses to help you cope with things in your life. Every person has a different experience. This therapy is a must if you are going through something bad or have something that needs attention in your life.

Andre J

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands

I was able to get rid of emotions that I was not even aware of and did not realize was part of ‘old baggage’ that kept me from moving forward in my life as a person, in personal relationships as well as with work related matters and relations. Personally, I struggle to let go, but by attending these sessions, it helped me through emotions that I could never have done without these sessions. After each session, one realised that you had “loose or get rid” of feelings that pulls you down and create unnecessary stress, physical pain and drainage of energy. When handling these 500kg animals, connecting with them, you then realise that there is a “Higher power in the universe” that is in charge of all life on this planet. The calmness of these animals is so inspiring and relaxing, that there is not enough words to express it.

Willie V

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands

I’m moved and touched by the emotions that the horse have exposed of myself. The entire experience was/is educational and eye opening for me.

Viwe M

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands

Never in my life I have been in contact with a horse until I started with the Horse sessions. My first experience triggered questions in my mind; How will I handle this enormous muscular animal? What is the reason behind this? Who will help should anything go wrong? I conquered my fears, grabbed the ‘halter’ and went for it and the feeling was great. I managed to connect with a horse and realised that it actually mirrors one’s feelings and emotions. The second and third time, I managed the above-mentioned process without the ‘halter’ and if you don’t call that overcoming your fears, I challenge you to give it a try. Perfection cannot be improved, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the life changing experience. Words alone cannot express the calmness these sessions brought to my soul.

Benjamin M

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands

Excellently presented. Insightful and productive. One of the MOST effective therapy methods.

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands

Wow. I truly enjoyed it and never thought that horses can be so kind. It made me realise to never judge yourself and take everything one step at a time. I love them for helping me to finally find inner peace.
Itumeleng K D

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands

The ABSA management team experienced significant positive shifts after the Equine Assisted Corporate Program.



We had the honor of serving as the Free State Branch of EAPISA, The Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Institute of South Africa, with Marie Olivier as the Horse Behaviour Specialist representative for EAPISA for 10 years.

Equistria Therapeutic Development Centre


The Equine Assisted Process was very relaxing, and we could explore aspects of what worked in our lives and clearly see how we could operate more effectively, in a safe space that was held by the facilitators.

Grey College teacher


Our 1st rugby team attended an Equine Assisted Team-building Process to address our team dynamic. The session really opened my eyes in terms of my role and responsibilities in the team – at the time I was one of the junior members of our team. Using the insights, I received during this session, I went on to become vice-captain, and the team as a whole functioned in an optimal way. We went on (for two seasons after this session) to win our local league and were finalists of the Kovsie-league. Thank you for showing me that I had the answers to most of my questions within me all along.

M Walsh

Vice-captain, St Andrews 1st XV Rugby

Life!!! Yesterday I found myself receiving feedback from a horse! Yes, a horse. Her name is Maggie; a majestic, self-assured being. Before going to the workshop which entailed equestrian guided processes, I had prayed for openness, trust and child-like innocence; these qualities have worked for me in unknown terrains before. As we were introduced to the horses, we had to choose a horse we wanted to work with. I had immediately connected with Maggie: distinguished, unique, present, calm and flamboyant in a quiet way –attributes that generally attract me (mostly opposite to what I know myself to be). She had responded by coming straight to me as if to say “I get you girl”. We established rapport and then she went about on her business, just like I prefer things to be. 

For the next exercise we had to pick and state elements/values that we wanted as integral part of our vision: mine - compassion, humility, wisdom, peace, and acceptance. Maggie, by my side was to agree or disagree. As I gently informed her that my vision needed to be guided by these essential elements, Maggie shook her head and would not move. “Maggie, please, I believe my vision has to be grounded in these values, please let’s go”. No. She would not budge. “Maggie, I believe I have learnt the meaning of these attributes and I am beginning to live my life in humility, acceptance etc”, I begged! No. Maggie did not agree. A minute, two, three minutes can seem like forever when arrogance is in action. “But, Maggie, we are buddies, so why can’t you agree with me? You know I live these values!!!” No, Maggie disagreed once more. I began to think in terms of defeat, started to feel exasperated, wondering what I was missing (I was on a humongous ego-mind trip at this stage). Then the penny dropped. Ego. Mind. Arrogance. Presumption. Sense of knowing it all. Maggie knew I was not where I had initially started, with child-like innocence and trust. Maggie also knew that I did not possess any of those qualities, which I so much wanted to believe I did. At that point, I realized that I had to constantly ask the Divine, Grace for the ability to be compassionate, for the ability to be humble, for wisdom at all times, ask for peace, and ask for the ability to accept what is. Maggie, in agreement moved forward with ease and purpose, completed the process exquisitely and graciously, and me in awe of this humbling discovery. 

ASK –my key word.

Nokwanda Ngombane


The 3 weeks that I’ve been going to the horse therapy, I’ve learned a lot of things. Especially how to trust myself and belief in myself. I’d like to say thank you to the horses for helping me to get my life back on track.

Fuzi M

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands

Well the first day I saw the horses and got to connect with them it was a bit fearful. The horses were huge, and they were like the unknown to me. So, the more I engaged with them the better my situation, feelings and emotions became. I actually overcame my fear for them. My 3 weeks of horse therapy was excellent, it was eye opening and educational, it was hopeful, encouraging, inspiring and it also made me belief that you can overcome all boundaries and obstacles in life.

Brain R

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands

What a profound experience this was. Every time I spend time at the horses, I found peace and tranquility while working with these special animals. I connected with a horse called Miriam. It was mind blowing what effect this very beautiful animal had on me.

Francois B

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands

I had heard about it before and how especially children with disabilities can gain from it, but never really knew the logic behind it. Then I experienced it myself through these sessions. My emotions were clearly elaborated and all I had to do was think why the horses reacted in certain situations and how is it applicable to my life. It was very refreshing and humbling. I was blown away every time we went there.
Lesego P

Rehabilitation Patient, Avoca Ranch, Nurture Woodlands