Natural Humanship Training is a unique method of using horses metaphorically to help explain how humans engage in destructive behaviors.  Traditional equine therapy uses a psychotherapist and a horse trainer to work with the human as she/he is engaged in riding the horse.  Equine therapy gained its fame by working with the developmentally disabled and handicapped humans.  Natural Humanship Training was developed to engage the human in a group setting so the power of group engagement and feedback can be used to facilitate a sound footing for internalizing new thoughts that result in behavioral change.  “To change your behavior one has to change his thinking”.  “When you know the truth, the truth will set you free”


Introduction:   This outline defines the basic ten session weekly program applied to groups of eight to twelve participants.  Following the initial office assessment, all subsequent sessions are held in the equine arena each lasting a minimum of three hours.  The format involves teaching, practicing, responding, and reflection.  Participants cycle through this process several times during the course of a three-hour session.  Each ‘human’ participant will experience the participation of a horse, a horse trainer, and a mentor/coach/volunteer. Curriculum can be modified and/or shortened depending on the number of days and hours that the participants will be attending.  Each Session contains skill demonstration, horse time, group therapy, breaks and reflection group.  After Session I and each Session there after begins and ends with a short Reflection group.

Session I: 

The initial session occurs in the office of the assigned therapist.  A psycho-social assessment is completed defining the individual treatment goals for participation in the Natural Humanship program. This session will gather data useful in the therapist/client relationship as the program progresses.  In addition to the group clinical goals of the program, each client is expected to define individual goals and maintain a journal of individual specific progress.

Session II: 

This session is held in the arena with all ‘human’ participants and horses present.  Instructions are given and reviewed regarding safety and equipment.  The anatomy of the horse is outlined and explained.  Basic horse psychology is covered: herd mentality, flight patterns, and animal learning model.  This session is primarily instructional: personal space, positive touch, pressure/release technique, approaching the horse, and managing self-behavior in the presence of the horse.

Session III:

Held in the arena, this session focuses on physical introduction to the horse.  ‘Humans’ will be introduced to haltering, grooming, physical contact, lifting and cleaning the hoof, and general testing of comfort in the presence of the horse.  Reflections and observations will address the comfort level of the horse in the student’s presence, body language communication between horse and person, and techniques of building relationship connections with the horse.

Session IV: 

Following a review of the learning so far, the group will be introduced to the applications of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to human and animal connections.  The CBT model will cover parent, adult and child interaction patterns and how they play out in the animal bond.  This session is held in the arena using rope, halter, grooming and pressure/release exercises to demonstrate the CBT model.  Defining the herd and alpha mare phenomenon, students will be exposed to concepts of power, space and control in the human/horse relationship.  Reflections and observations will address approach/avoidance and fear versus love.Session V:This session will begin with a brief review of learning from last session.  Moving into more involved exercises, ‘humans’ will participate in catching the horse in a herd, haltering, rope leading, grooming, hoof work and moving the horse using physical prompts.  The work will include disengaging the hind quarters; beginning the assignment of learning to “drive” a horse.  Clinical work will include understanding hierarchy of needs and passive, aggressive, assertive patterns of behavior.  The horse work in this session will demonstrate feedback to the “humans” about their own behavior and awareness of its impact on others.

Session VI:

The session will begin with more advanced sharing of insights and learning from the model.  It will invite deeper trust and sharing of learning among students as they begin to learn from each other.  Horse exercises will focus on listening to the horse, becoming deeply aware of what the horse is communicating and advancing one’s skills in prompting and moving the horse.  This work will involve understanding the negative feelings and experience of the animal including claustrophobia and fear. As the ‘human’ learns how to overcome the fear in the horse, they experience an attachment to an outside being through positive relationship (love).  Clinical processes will include patience, trust and respect.

Session VII:

After a short review of the previous session, this session will move into advanced activity with the horse: planning, prompting and implementing correct movement of the horse including advanced disengagement of the hind quarters both directions.  Clinical work will be directed to advanced clarification of boundaries, listening, directing self and others and the process of change. The intrapersonal experience of this session involves a strong sense of personal empowerment reflected in the trust and communication with the horse.  This begins a whole new level of management of fear for the student.  Life change is viewed as a product of communication rather than force.

Session VIII:

This session begins with a comprehensive review of learning thus far.  It includes a total review of the horse and what we have learned from the horse.  This sets the stage for an activity session of more advanced prompting and moving of the horse.  The horse work includes leading, stopping, backing, maintaining space.  Clinical work covers advanced listening, non-verbal communication with the horse, letting go, resolution of conflict through empowerment.

Session IX: 

As ‘humans’ become comfortable with the process, they are eager to learn more almost on their own from the relationship with the horse.  The sense of personal power with a thousand pound animal is overwhelming.  The horse activity of this session includes leading on the rail, basket weaving, yielding, lunging for respect.  The clinical reflections are geared to respect and trust, transferred to personal experiences of family, work and social engagement.

Session X:

The final day is emotional.  The ‘humans’ catch their horse, halter, groom, review activities as a way to celebrate the experience with the horse.  Termination of the relationship is processed including disengaging emotionally with the horse and each other.  Clinical review and reflection is about what we have learned that we will take with us.  What has the horse given us?  What have we given the horse?  What will we take with us from this experience?  What will the horse take with him/her from this relationship with the ‘humans’?  Termination done well is a powerful demonstration in itself about managing fear, love and life.  We end with a closing group session.
The curriculum 
outlined above is a general outline of the core learning/experiential process of equine support offered in the Natural Humanship Training.  The model is then adapted to specific client populations driven by their unique clinical needs and challenges and does not need to do or complete all of the sessions outlined above.  It can be customized for individual needs of the client.  The Colorado Therapy Horses is a ‘herd’ of horses and humans that ‘Heal the Hearts’ of hurting humans like Wounded Warriors, Vets and their families, PTSD, Victims of various kinds of trauma, broken child and family relationships and // all other kinds of ‘Wounded Humans’ such as those with alcohol and drug addictions. Corporate executives as a team building/ communication model is on the future drawing board.