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Q&A: Wisconsin company utilizes horses in learning

Stable Relations program coordinator Bridget McConnell with her horse Bubba. Photo courtesy Bridget McConnell

Humans have long relied on horses for transportation, plowing fields and other physical tasks. At a company in western Wisconsin, horses are also helping people better themselves.

Stable Relations in Roberts offers equine-assisted growth and learning services to individuals and groups, including continuing education classes for social workers and team-building activities for businesses.

We asked Bridget McConnell, the program coordinator at Stable Relations, to explain more about the business and how horses can help people grow:

What is equine-assisted growth and learning, and what can people get out of it?

Equine-assisted growth and learning is an experiential model of learning and change. It is metaphoric in nature, meaning that the horses and the surroundings become metaphors for participants and their life situations. Each person has a unique learning experience.

The model is based on experiential learning theory which is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as learning through reflection on doing. It is different from rote or didactic learning, in which the learner plays a passive role.

This is an evidence-based model that provides a safe, unique and fun learning environment for people to discover solutions to problems and reach their true potential.

What is it about horses that makes this approach effective?

Why Horses? Strong Outcomes!

Equine-assisted work helps people change and grow more effectively and quickly than traditional methods. Working with horses is engaging, real-time and hands-on. Horses serve as powerful living metaphors and stand-ins for the challenges and opportunities people face in their daily lives.

In the right professional hands, using a proven professional model, horses have the power to help people practice new ways of engaging with the world, without judgment or shame.

I don't have much experience with horses — will I feel comfortable around them?

No previous horse experience is necessary. There is no riding; all activities are done on the ground. Participants are able to control how much, or how little, interaction they have with the horses. Safety is our No. 1 priority.

What was the inspiration for Stable Relations, and what services does it offer?

The inspiration for Stable Relations came from my background in mental health, a passion for helping people change and reach their true potential, and a love of horses. I have personally experienced the power of horses in teaching humans how to better themselves.

My business partner and I are both certified through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association to provide this service.

Currently, the services offered include provision of approved continuing education credits for educators and a variety of other professionals including social work, marriage and family therapy, and licensed professional counselors.

Currently two classes, "Creating Movement in Therapy" and "Effective Leadership," are available for registrants on our website. Supervision is available for social workers and licensed professional counselors who are working toward their license or are newly licensed. We also provide corporate support services that include team-building, team-bonding and leadership seminars. All corporate support services are tailored to the unique needs of the corporations and we also offer follow up support. Mental health, addiction recovery and life coaching services are available as well.

How do I learn more?

Stable Relations is hosting two open houses, the first from 3-7 p.m. Oct. 20 and the second 1-5 p.m. Oct. 21. Free live demonstrations are scheduled at 5 p.m. on the 20th and 3 p.m. on the 21st. Stop by to learn more about what we do. Participate in a demonstration or just observe. You are also welcome to call 651-319-3818 for additional information, or access our website at www.stablerelationswi.com.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875
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