«Return to News ListingNMCTR’s New Program: Self-Mastery Program

June 25, 2018 – 

Self-Mastery Program

The New Mexico Center for Therapeutic Riding has developed a new at-risk youth program called the Self-Mastery Program. The Self-Mastery program is an equine-assisted learning program for at risk youth. The program involves the promotion of emotional self-regulation, confidence building, somatic awareness, and developing one’s personal power.

Promotion of Emotional Self-Regulation

Interacting with horses provides a venue for lowering stress levels through experiences of emotional regulation. The horses chosen for this work exhibit calm, predictable, and steady dispositions. Activities such as grooming and leading a horse give the client an opportunity to receive from the horse’s naturally calm presence. On the other hand, interacting with horses provides an opportunity for the client to observe the impact of his or her own emotional state (energy system) upon the horse. Due to the high levels of sensitivity of horses, as prey animals, they naturally pick up on any state of arousal such as anger or anxiety that the participant is carrying. Thus the horse provides feedback for the client about his or her own emotional state, and with some facilitation, the client can begin to learn to identify and then regulate this emotional state. Through a variety of activities with horses, clients can learn to strengthen the awareness of their internal emotional states, and can build the skills to manage their own energy. In everyday language these self-regulation skills are called having self-control; the ability to exercise control over oneself, by oneself.  Teens can learn very effective skills in responsibly managing their own energy/emotions.

Confidence Building

As teens interact with horses they learn that the horse responds best to a confident leader. Teens are taught to pay attention to their own body language and focus. A clear intention leads to a good outcome. Even when the teen does not feel confident, he or she can learn to walk and stand confidently, allowing the body to lead one into a felt sense of confidence.

Somatic Awareness

Teens become more aware of their own bodies in relationship to the horse’s body. Safety follows awareness. Because horses are so large, one could easily get a foot stepped on, or get bumped into the fence. Somatic awareness develops as teens learn basic safety skills around horses.

Developing One’s Personal Power

Through such activities as working with a facilitator in a round pen with a horse, teens can learn to move the horse’s body from walk to trot to canter. Teens learn effective use of body language as well as effective use of energy, to communicate with the horse. Teens learn the more subtle gradations of energy needed to calmly move the horse through these paces without causing the horse to become frantic. Teens that have anger issues, for example, can learn to pace themselves through these exercises, thus further developing self-regulation skills and learning from the horse’s mirroring.

Populations Served: The Self Mastery Program is designed to serve at risk youth, ages 11 to 18 (grades 7-12), that might come from a variety of referral sources such as the local homeless shelter, school counselors, mental health agencies, and private therapists.

If you are interested in enrolling your teen or if you are an agency that would like to develop a community partnership, please call Ashley at 505-948-6900 or email ashley.nmctr@gmail.com