EAL facilitator wants family unity this Christmas

Kim Richardson says horses are exceptional teachers for people wanting to learn more about how to develop relationships with yourself and others, particularly members of your family.

An area equine-assisted learning (EAL) facilitator is offering the gift of family unity this Christmas.

Kim Richardson, the owner of the Lucky Break Ranch near Rivers, Man., says the true meaning of Christmas – being together and sharing the cheerful spirit of the season – has been lost to commercialization. She and her stable of teachers; the horses she keeps on the ranch; may be the medicine required to heal damaged family relationships and develop unity within the home.

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In celebration of the holiday, The Lucky Break Ranch is offering one-day EAL sessions to families of up to four individuals for $250. The package – which can be purchased for themselves or as a sponsorship for the family of an acquaintance – also includes a gift basket, three EAL programs, lunch and beverages and what Richardson calls, “an experience of a lifetime… that will outlast any gift bought from a store.”

The sessions can be booked at the family’s convenience, not necessarily through the Holiday season.

“We start off by building a relationships and meeting the teachers, which are the horses,” Richardson said. “With the Christmas program, what I’m thinking is when people call to book their session, I’ll talk to them and find out what they are struggling with in their family unit. That way I can customize it so they can get the most out of their day.”

EAL programs require facilitators like Richardson, but the teachers in the learning system are actually the horses. Richardson is not a therapist. The horses manifest the required counseling by the development of the relationship between an individual or group and the animal.

Participants must learn to talk and act in a way that develops positive relationships with horses by working through various exercises. Horses are extremely sensitive to their surroundings and quick to react to certain stimuli, which make them effective educators through their immediate response to their handlers.

EAL encourages individuals to behave in a way that is conducive to developing positive relationships. Participants learn social skills that can easily be transferred to the human world, like developing cooperation, courtesy, patience, responsibility, appropriate assertiveness and appreciation for the self and others.

For family relationships, Richardson said EAL also helps with problem solving, negative communication habits, listening skills like active listening, articulation, negotiation and more. At the end of the session, participants will receive literature further outlining what they have learned and how it can translate to their experience at home.

“I did it last year and had one family come out,” Richardson said. “It was awesome. I took some of their thoughts and fixed it up to make it a little more appealing. Last year, we included a chili lunch, but this year, we’ll do a wiener roast for lunch to enhance the bonding experience. It’s completely about the family.”

EAL sessions – particularly this family program – are not only about therapy. Richardson, who has spent her whole life around horses, accentuates the fun the animals provide while teaching basic, positive human communication skills.

“There are so many broken families out there and this is just a good outing for a good, wholesome family get together,” she said, noting that EAL can even benefit families with strong relationships. “They’ll walk away learning something while having fun the whole time.”

Outside of facilitating families, Richardson’s EAL program helps individuals and groups from a wide array of backgrounds, including youth, women, men, military veterans; anyone with minor personal struggles to those working with mental health issues. The Lucky Break Ranch is already pre-booked for the summer of 2019 with several camps emphasizing things like anti-bullying programming.

This Christmas, she is focusing on families, though.

“(EAL) is like an alternative to talk therapy and it works. Whether it’s after one session or 12 weeks, people walk away with something; guaranteed,” Richardson said.

“You’re family unit is the most important unit in your life. They’re the people you need to be close to.”

For more information on the Lucky Break Ranch, EAL or its Christmas family session promotion, contact Richardson by email at luckybreakranchandtack@gmail.com or call (306) 322-7710. More information can also be found at the facility’s website: www.luckybreakequine.com.

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