“The horses taught me so much in so little time.”

~ Program Participant

Building Internal Resilience Through Horses

Building Internal Resilience Through Horses is a free trauma-informed community-based program with a research component, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The program is open to young women aged 13-18 years living in Peterborough, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, and Northumberland County, who have witnessed family conflict and/or who have experienced harm in their home environment.

The program includes 12 weeks of engaging group activities that combine expressive arts, education, and an opportunity to work in partnership with horses at The Mane Intent Inc. in Indian River, Ontario. The activities are designed to support the development of healthy self-esteem, emotional awareness, coping skills, and personal resilience.

The anonymized research data from participants’ feedback and questionnaires will be used to improve future delivery of the program and promote evidence-based approaches for helping young people become stronger in the face of adversity.

All equine-assisted activities are ground-based, no riding is involved, and no prior horse or art experience is necessary. Participant transportation to the horse farm can be arranged if required.

For more information or to refer a client or to register for the program, call the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre at 705-748-5901. All participants are required to register with your parent or guardian.

Cover of Building Internal Resilience Through Horses Manual with young woman gently touching the face of a horse.

Download the Building Internal Resilience Through Horses manual – a free community resource and guide for therapists, social workers, and equine program facilitators offering skill-based equine-assisted learning.

About the Research

Researchers from Trent University are leading the study supporting Building Internal Resilience Through Horses. The purpose of the study is to better understand how participation in Equine-Assisted Learning may assist in enhancing resilience and mental health of young women who have witnessed family conflict and/or who have experienced harm in their home environment.

As part of the research, participants are asked to fill out a brief feedback card at the end of each session, and a set of questionnaires about everyday attitudes, feelings, and behaviours and mental health concerns before and after the program, and at 1-month, 6-month, and 12-month follow-ups.

The results will reflect the implications of Equine Assisted Learning as a tool to foster resiliency-based competencies in youth. Furthermore, this research is important in informing current and future prevention and intervention efforts and advancing innovative trauma-informed practice.

For more information on the research, please contact Dr. Kateryna Keefer at Trent University at katerynakeefer@trentu.ca

Black and white photography by: Lora Jude DeWolfe