Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP)

What is Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP)?

  Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) involves working with horses to help humans.  It is a growing experiential treatment where children, young people and adults can interact with horses, in their natural environment, to improve their mental health and general well-being.  EFP involves a variety of activities, such as spending time with the herd, communicating with them, observing their movements, reflective grooming, walking and equine games. The beauty and reward is in the process rather and not necessarily in the end goal.  It is a process where skills of patience, resilience and hope are built. Go to the Top

Why Horses?

Horses are very astute and aware of our moods and emotions and can be incredibly supportive when we have built up a trusting relationship with them.

We have much to learn from horses.


  • are mindfulness masters
  • are content to be themselves
  • learn to function as a herd for a good of the whole not just for themselves
  • learn how to be in relationship and resolve their differences

Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy is a form of active mindfulness.  Horses live in the present; they are aware of their surroundings and at the same time attune to feelings of other horses and humans too.  They are social creatures and live naturally as part of a herd.  They are always in relationship with each other; their herd functions like a family – they may have their disagreements but at the end of the day, they look after each other and look out for one another.

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What does a typical session look like?

Together we will assess your sense of ease in the presence of the horse and at your own pace get to know the horses and their ways of being and how we can feel safe enough around them to do the work. Sometimes, the work will involve reflecting on your feelings or energy levels in the presence of the horse from various distances and working to change that in the present moment, which usually involves an instant feedback from the horse.  Other times, the work can involve activities with the horses, such as moving them around obstacle courses often at liberty (without headcollars or harnesses). Go to the Top

Is EFP suitable for Children, Young People and Adults?

Yes, EPF is suited to all ages.

As a qualified Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist, I am able to work with children.  For EFP, I work with children from age 7 years +.

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Why would I choose EFP as a form of therapy?

Difficulty with talking therapies

Sometimes, we are in place where we want to feel better but just can’t seem to find the words to express ourselves to anyone to start to make sense of our burden and find that talking therapy is working for us.  EFP is an effective therapy as no words are necessary although you may find yourself confiding in the horse as they can be good, patient listeners too.

Instant Feedback – Horses as our emotional mirror

Due to horses having a similar limbic system to humans, they can feel similar emotions to us.  Also, because they are a prey animal, they can quickly recognise emotions in others. For example, if one member feels a surge of fear they are all instantly informed and ready to move as a herd to escape potential danger.  They often even recognise emotions in humans before we ourselves are aware of it. This useful skill from our equine co-therapists can give you and the therapist a good insight into how you may be feeling and thinking.  Horses are our emotional mirror.

 Relationship Building / Interpersonal Skills

Horses, like humans, have an underlying need to be in a group or herd.  Whether we are more introverted or more extroverted by nature, we still need other humans to survive.  In learning to build a relationship with a horse, we learn about ourselves and the way we relate to others, often noticing old, unhelpful patterns that have led us to difficulties with getting on with others or unhappy relationships.  Horses provide instant, honest and non-judgmental feedback, which can give us a good sense in how we relate to others.  In practicing relationship building, with our big-hearted friends in nature, we can learn how to be in relationship with others in a way which makes us feel comfortable, safe and content.

Connection to our true self

‘Beauty comes from within’, as does our happiness, our freedom, self-love, self-regulation, sense of safety & trust and compassion.  Horses help us connect to those parts of ourselves that are always there inside of us, even if we have temporarily lost that connection.

Building Trust

Sometimes our ability to trust has been shattered, especially if we have experienced trauma.  Without our ability to trust, we can find ourselves unable to build relationships, make friends, and find ourselves in an exhausted state of confusion. As horses live in the present moment and are very tuned in to their environment, riding with the wave of curiosity, alertness and then calmness and contentedness, they can help us fine tune our instincts in the present moment and build up that muscle of ability to trust.

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Do I need to be experienced with horses to benefit from EFP?


If you have little or no experience of being with horses, you will be gently introduced at your own pace. Sometimes a beginner’s mind can be an advantage!

If you are experienced and/or comfortable being around horses then you already have a good understanding of how to handle them which can be beneficial.  However, you may find this work very different from anything you have done with horses before so it is could practice to bring forth your beginners mind too!

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Does EFP involve riding?

Although riding is another wonderful way of interacting with horses, EFP is groundwork – where we meet and interact with the horses in the field allowing them to have the freedom to be themselves and move around freely in their natural environment and therefore, giving you clear, instant biopsychosocial feedback which can ultimately help you get to know yourself better. Go to the Top

Why choose Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy at Westfield Farm?

Westfield Farm Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy practice is in the heart of the Lambourn Valley of the Racehorse, a beautiful location and a natural home for many horses.  At Westfield Farm, we have a warm and cosy therapy room that is located overseeing the horses in the field so we have the best of both worlds. The equine herd based at Westfield Farm are a mixture of breeds, sexes so clients normally find a horse that they can resonate with each time they come. Go to the Top

How long do the sessions last?

Most sessions can be arranged for either 1 hour or 1.5 hours although the longer 1.5 hour session is often better. Sessions can also be arranged for a longer duration especially if there is a group or family. Go to the Top

How many sessions do I need?

Longer more complex issues such as trauma may require more sessions.  However, as a guide a minimum of 6 sessions would be ideal to get to know the herd, work with them and notice changes in you that are reflected in the herd.

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