Rainbow Trails EAP

2007 International
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Conference!

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     The 2007 EAGALA International Conference was truly inspiring.  Tons of info, new contacts from around the world and even more input for future sessions.

03/14th - 18th, 2007      Ogden, Utah

    I believe there were close to 500 members present for this International conference in Ogden.  There were some from Scotland, England; all across the States and of course some from Canada, eh!

    PLEASE NOTE. The pictures I have here are only file pictures as my camera died while I was at the conference.  These pictures are just some of my favorite shots from the Stables that I love to share time and time again.  But every picture was chosen for its feeling and depth of thought.

The first day was spent in the arena with some excellent examples of suggested sessions and some new techniques were performed.  The conference started with Templeton Thompson singing her own songs from horseback.  She was so good and her songs so heartfelt that I had to purchase 2 of her CD’s.  Any of you horse lovers out there that can remember your first love of horses will thoroughly enjoy her music.

    The first session was for Eating Disorders.  A very enlightening format was used with one loose horse and a mother daughter team.  The theory was that the vast majority of kids with eating disorders have communication problems with their parents as part of their problem.  The horse’s independence and teen’s independence was a good mirror for this therapy.  The clinic that did this EAP session specializes in all forms of eating disorders.

  An EGALA team of 2 professionals performed each session and I LOVE to watch these people in their element.  The responses they can generate from the “client” are awe inspiring, sometime heart wrenching, but always emotionally fulfilling.  I always come away pumped to get doing this more at home.  The second session was for “healing your Marriage”.  4 couples were chosen to enter the arena and 4 horses were loose in the arena.  The couples were then given the directive to catch one of the horses, holding hands, halter it and use the driving lines that were on the ground to drive their horse to the mat in the middle of the arena.  No further directions were given.  It was extremely interesting to see the choices each couple made and the fact that every single couple got their horses to the mat using entirely different methods.  This is an awesome communication tool for any partnership.




An excellent presentation was made on counter transference.  We all know about seeing in others what we feel in ourselves, but his group really made it hit home.  The little things that happened in your past that make you see things as you do.  If you were constantly told you were useless, then you think if someone else messes up they might think that they are useless.  Just because that is how you think.  Pretty heady stuff but so very reflective.  As the speakers talked I think we all had some aha moments.




 Michael Dawson gave an excellent presentation on “Horse Healing Grief – Equine Assisted Grief and Counseling”.  He explored the uniqueness of grieving children and demonstrated how EAP can works wonders bringing out emotions they have buried.  This was a very emotional session and everyone came away with a few more aha moments.  Watching the turmoil within emerge was amazing.  All the participants were of course volunteers for a demonstration, yet every one of them had some release.  Some to old grief they thought they had dealt with long ago.






Karen Scholl was the keynote speaker for this day and she gave a hilarious speech on communications and psychology (both for and with horses and humans).  She had everyone at the edge of their seats with her insights into why we do what we do.  She greatly enhanced horses instinctive reactions for preservation.  And why women are less assertive then men.  If I can I will post some of notes here on her talk as it was excellent.




Friday there was a total of 16 sessions presented.  We were only able to take in 4 of them and there was not one I did not to take.  So the decision was a hard one but here are bits from the ones I got to take.



So How’s That working for you – Advice from Dr. Pills horse

Focused on corporate and therapy clients that were stuck in faulty assumptions and resistance to change.  Assessed common tools of dealing with different personalities in the work place and how to apply them to EAP sessions for corporations.  One of the best comments I heard throughout the entire conference was spoken at this session.  She said, if you went into somebody’s office and tried to “sell” him or her on group therapy with horses, they will just about always laugh you off as a joke.  BUT if you told them “What if I guaranteed you that it will work”, you’ll have their attention.  And the wonderful part of what she said is – IT’S TRUE.  We really can guarantee it will work, as it always does.  See the notes below on the session on statistics.


You Got it, you spot it.  Projections of Equine Facilitators

Explained how; if we learn more about what we see in our clients, we may learn more about yourselves than we bargained for.  Learnt positive and negative projections, Passive and aggressive projections.  You see, not all our projections are bad!  (Thanks goodness!!!)  Learnt a four-step process to take back projections that can be applied to both our clients and to us.



Tulsa Boys Home Relationship Model

This session was extremely encouraging.  To hear the model that these guys have set up using EAP is amazing.  They work with level 3 (out of 4) troubled kids.  From alcoholism to abuse issues the work they are doing is impressive.  They run about 12 horses (all donated from a thoroughbred retirement agency with all feed and vet paid) and have 3 building that the kids stay in residency.  The parents or guardians of the kids MUST participate in the program and they are running 300% better success rate than the old traditional therapy programs!!  Wow.

         Equine Assisted Psychotherapy – An Ethnographic Pilot Study

Extremely interesting.  A nurse undertook to provide qualative research to prove statistically the results of EAP.  It was amazing.  First, the trouble she had to go through to have her study recognized as “official” and secondly, the results.  In every case the comparisons were to traditional office therapy and EAP.  The feel better statistics were analyzed with the same format.  The office therapy increased about 5% while the EAP was 85%!!!  In every case! Now do you get why I am so hyped!  Man, this is amazing to see it in a format that the “professionals” can relate to.  I’m telling you, this is world changing news.  This is world-changing therapy.  This is world changing for all the thousands of “troubled” humanoids out there!!


           Then the highlight of the entire weekend for me was a speech by Dee Dee Stout.

Her presentation was:

Motivational Interviewing and The Stages of Change: The art of possibility in Conversation.




Dee Dee was humorous and informative.  Well spoken and challenging.  Some of the points she made was the fact that when we try to change something, the first time people they are successful only 20% of the time on the first attempt.  Yea, that’s me.

The really big part of her speech for me was interpretation.  She gave an excellent example of how we have to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes if we truly want to understand them.  Her test for us was to find a partner and then give them the one word that you think best describes yourself. And then the partner had to tell you what that word meant.  Only 10% of the people get it the first attempt.  That’s because “you have to walk a mile in my shoes” to understand me.

She talked a lot about knowing what you want to know.  Not asking questions to fill a void.  But having a purpose behind every question we ask.  Knowing what you are trying to accomplish.

She also talked about  how to get people thinking positive.  I liked this part.   She talked about how we don’t take the time to analyze life’s situations. An example she gave was she was standing in a check out line in a rush, (as we all are) and the lady was chatting away with an older woman who was holding a child and taking their time discussing life.  She got impatient and tapping her foot, giving all the non-verbal signals that she wanted to get out.  This went on for 5 minutes and by the time the lady finally left Dee Dee was pretty upset.  The clerk turns to her and says – Thakyou for being so patient.  My husband just passed away and that was my mom who came by with my daughter.  I don’t get to see her much these days, as I have to work 2 jobs to pay the bills.  So my mom brings her by once in awhile just so I can say hi and she doesn’t forget who her momma is.

           What do you say?!  But that is what Dee Dee’s presentation was on.  Putting yourself in others shoes.  Understanding where they are coming from and obtaining the skills to help them get where they want to go.  Really enjoyed her a lot.  Just the name of her course says it all – Motivational Interviewing.  Not Therapy, Not counseling, I like it allot.  How many times have we all been in the same situations?  I wonder what we would have thought had we known the whole story.


I also took in – The Artistry of EAP and Profitable Public Relationships

Both of these sessions gave me some excellent ideas for promoting our operations once we are in full swing.  Lots of ideas on how to do up brochures, make intro CD’s, how to obtain free media coverage and how to make yourself be accepted as a “professional”.  Kind of funny actually when she talked about how a person gets to be considered as such.  If you throw a bunch of initials behind your name and say you attended a bunch of courses and spoke at conferences and get a few articles printed, you’re a professional!


All in all it was a super weekend and I’m glad I made it.  Now just need the time to put it all to use!




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