1st International meeting at GIRONA
ERASMUS+ Project, “Training specialists for the preparation of therapy horses for Equine Facilitated Therapies and Activities”
Setting up European standards in the qualification and training of equines in EAAT.
After our first meeting held in Spain, Girona, we are so happy to share our first impressions of it!
In this first international meeting of the Project, some topics were discussed regarding the current knowledge about the horse, focusing mainly on the theme of behavior, its relationship with man and how difficult it is to integrate this knowledge, when preparing a horse for therapeutic activities.
The differences in the equine industry and in criteria for equine selection and preparation of the horses used in Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies in Europe, are evident. Some presentations about human-horses’ interactions were taken, such about Equine Body Language, Emotions and biomechanics; for example, how pleasant and unpleasant emotional states influence the biomechanical responses of each other.
We did brainstorms on topics like, "Are we so different from horses?" (Proyecto caballo); "Are we giving a horse a good quality of life?" (1Marthe Kiley-Wothington); and about Animal Sentience (2Adrià Voltes).
We discussed some important criteria in the preparation of the therapy horse. We realized that in some countries, such as ours, Portugal, we still have much to discuss with issues such as promoting the quality of life and the well-being of our horses. Knowing how physical and emotional advantages of promoting certain conditions- such as allowing horses to access outdoor spaces, adjusting the workload and the way in which we interact with them- we understand that, although difficult to apply, regarding its economy cost, lack of space or time, these are in the current context, urgent.
Horses should be valued as individuals, regardless of the benefits they produce in humans. They are especially important to us, but that only happens if they are okay, if they are enjoying a fulfilled life.
Horses have not only emotional but cognitive needs too, as told us Kiley-Wothington, and these are rarely fulfilled. A horse will be happier if he has the right to choose, explore and discover. In fact, in the natural world, horses are always exploring, they really are curious and motivated to learn. They have an innate ability to learn amazingly fast, as this is essential for their survival.
It is a challenge when we want the best for horses and humans. There still exists a clear gap between what is known and what is being done, in terms of how we treat horses and animals in general, on our Continent.
Now you are looking forward about continuing this great work at the next meeting in September in Prague!
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