Equine Assisted Learning


Equine-assisted learning (EAL) is an experiential learning approach that promotes the development of life skills for educational, professional, and personal goals through equine-assisted activities. PATH Intl. provides standards of professionalism and safety for people working in our industry and guidelines for those providing EAL.

Heaven’s Gait Ranch, Inc. is proud to be recognized as an approved provider by Sheboygan County’s Department of Health & Human Services and Ozaukee County’s Department of Human Services. We are not only an approved provider agency that receives referrals from Sheboygan County’s Children’s Long Term Support Waiver (CLTS) and Children’s Community Options Program (CCOP), but we are also an approved provider for Ozaukee County’s Children’s Long Term Support waiver (CLTS) & Comprehensive Community Services (CCS). All services are directly facilitated by an authorized, credentialed professional on staff.

MM with Jack 08.20.17

In an EAL setting, the experiential approach integrates equine-human interaction that is guided by a planned learning experience to meet the identified goals or desires of the participant. Working on a ranch provides opportunities to teach critical life skills such as trust, respect, honesty, and communication. Animals use mostly non-vocal communication and are in-tune with human behavior. This can help participants to better understand and learn how our non-verbal communication might be impacting or influencing others in their lives. Our horses, donkey, and barn cats ask people to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Through interactions with the animals and people on site, participants learn a heightened self-awareness. Self-awareness is important in order to reveal patterns of behavior and gives participants the opportunity to think in a new way. Furthermore, participants gain self-esteem and self-confidence while learning how to work with such a large and powerful creature. In all, equines provide us with a way to see our internal landscape and modes of operation exposed. They offer us the opportunity to experience humility, compassion and challenge — all critical elements to supporting self-growth and self-awareness.

Because all services at Heaven’s Gait Ranch start from the ground up, unmounted activities allow individuals the time needed to build a trusting relationship. The key difference between this program and therapeutic riding is the focus, goals, and curriculum: while therapeutic riding focuses on technical skills needed to ride, EAL focuses on interactions and relationships.

Ellie listening to Andrew read 2017

Hazel & Rufus Winter 2020