Vista Pilots Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) Program with Horses Healing Humans (HHH)

Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center aims at establishing and strengthening partnerships with organizations in the community to provide valuable experiences and opportunities for students and members on a variety of levels. A recent example of this is the Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) Pilot Program that Vista just completed with Horses Healing Humans (HHH) in Stonington, CT.  Student participants in this program learned basic horsemanship and farm management skills while exploring relationship building, verbal and nonverbal communications, empathy, teamwork, goal setting, problem solving, trust and boundary awareness as well as other topics. HHH explains that a horse’s perceptive and giving nature allows for this process to occur in a very powerful manner. From HHH:

“The horse is a sentient, intuitive, and social being that senses fear, uncertainty, or emotional distress. The horse acts as facilitator in discovering underlying problems by acting as a mirror in which clients can identify problems they are experiencing, so that appropriate changes can be implemented to find balanced, fulfilling lives, and:

- Build confidence
- Improve self-esteem
- Develop personal accountability and responsibility
- Learn trust and patience
- Enhance listening and communication skills
- Strengthen relationships
- Improve emotional control and self-discipline”


In this program many exercises were developed to assist Vista students to address individual situational issues and solutions on their own and in conjunction with the group and staff. Over the 8 weeks that students attended HHH, they became more aware of their surroundings and worked as a team with peers that they normally wouldn’t interact with. These students have learned to work with different personalities, volunteers and horses of different natures. They’ve shown empathy by whispering to, hugging and loving the horses throughout all of the sessions. They have grown in many areas, specifically in their listening, social, trust, communication and coping skills. Vista is currently planning a second phase of the pilot program that would offer this experience to a different group of students (Outreach members as opposed to Entrance students) to determine whether this could be a long-term addition to Vista’s program.

Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization.  Vista’s mission is “Providing services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success.”


For more information regarding Vista, please visit www.vistavocational.org


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