Equine Facilitated Learning at Gothenburg University

Dear all,

We are very excited to announce the last but not least emotion seminar this spring semester in combination with Allmänna Seminariet, 15 June.

In line with our exploration of the theme of Human-animal studies in sociology Åsa Björnberg, Executive coach and Family Business Expert from London Business School will present on the topic of Horses, Learning and Emotional Development. See abstract below.

After her presentation Petra Andersson, PhD, from the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science will offer comments and reflections  on the presentation from the perspective of human-animal studies, before we open up for general discussion. For those of you who are interested in the theoretical backgrounds and potentials of human-animal studies I also attach a chapter by Tora Holmberg and Lynda Birke “Intersections: The animal question meets feminist theory”.

We look forward to a discussion that challenges the way sociologists in particular but social scientists and the humanities in general think about humans and animals and the boundaries between them.



Interspecies Communication: The Role of the Horse in Learning and Emotional Development

Rampa das Bestas Spain 400 yearsÅsa Björnberg

For thousands of years, horses have accelerated human development by lending us their muscle power. In this time, humans and horses have shared a process of co-evolution, and thus become intricately linked in relationship and communication. This, in combination with their herd/prey mentality and special character traits, makes them uniquely equipped to assist humans in their emotional and spiritual development. While we no longer need horses’ muscle power, we now need their intuition and wisdom for the more subtle challenge of mastering “soft” skills, and becoming authentic individuals. Such skills are sorely needed in today’s VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous).

This seminar explores the method of Equine Facilitated Learning and Therapy, where humans and horses engage in interspecies communication to heal and learn.

Several methods for learning with horses have emerged since the North American Riding for the Handicap Association first began to uncover the human-equine relationship’s potential for healing in the late 1960’s. The method described here regards horses as facilitators in their own right, based on a Native American philosophy, which views the horse as a best friend and teacher, in respectful partnership. Alongside human experts in psychology, participants conduct experiential exercises in the field and arena, but with no riding. The core concept is learning how to use our bodies as “sensing devices” – like horses do, using non-verbal communication and emotional intelligence. The process stimulates several senses and creates sustainable impressions through a series of neuropsychological mechanisms, making it a highly effective method for positive personal change.