New Winter Program!
Begins  January 31, 2022


Nature and Equine Assisted 
Social-Emotional Learning Program
for Neurodivergent children and youth


6 week program

( Jan. 31- March 11, 2022)

Outdoors; 1 hour per week

Individualized and 1:1 support

Spaces are limited   


Children/youth on the Autism spectrum,
Children/youth with ADHD 
Children/youth with Learning Disabilities

Note: This service is  provided by a regulated Occupational Therapist/Psychotherapist in partnership with a Special Needs Education Consultant, as listed on Autism Ontario's CommunityConnect . 

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children learn and apply a set of  skills, attitudes, behaviors, and values that help them to direct their thoughts, feelings, and actions in ways that promote  learning, health and wellbeing. 

What are SEL skills? 

SEL skills cross cognitive, social and emotional domains and include:

Cognitive domain: Attention control, inhibitory control, working memory and planning skills, cognitive flexibility and critical thinking

Social domain: understanding social cues, social problem solving and prosocial/cooperative behaviour

Emotional domain: emotional knowledge and expression, emotional and behavioural regulation, empathy/perspective taking. 


Our Unique 3 R's Approach to Social-Emotional Learning

We offer an  integrated approach to SEL that draws upon nature and the wisdom of horses to promote learning and development across the cognitive, social and emotional domains of each child's experience and potential. 

This approach is informed by the
EPI model of equine assisted psychotherapy and equine assisted learning and focuses on each child's strengths and the unique ways in which they experience, interact with and interpret the world.

Program Objectives:

We aim to create opportunities for neurodiverse children and youth to learn and put to use what we refer to as the 3 R's for mental health and overall wellbeing.

The 3 R's

  1. Emotional Regulation (developing strategies to respond to your experiences in the world in a manner that is tolerable and flexible)

  2. Resourcing (restoring connection to your inner and outer resources that bring comfort and support during times of stress or dysregulation)

  3. Raising Awareness (becoming aware of different aspects of yourself, others and  the environment that influences how you think, feel, and act.


Learning and Relating by way of Nature & THE HORSE

Consistent with the EPI model, we believe that we learn, heal and grow through relationships, and further, that experiences in nature and with horses offers unique sensory,  somatic, and relational opportunities that supports learning, health and wellbeing.  This can be especially beneficial for neurodiverse children and youth who may find relating to people and functioning in closed, indoor spaces challenging.

The Benefits of Nature

Nature has been shown to restore children's attention, relieve stress and promote social connection and creativity. It also provides a literal and metaphoric doorway for children to meet their biophilic needs - to feel and be connected with the natural world, and themselves as a part of nature ( Meg Kirby, The Equine Psychotherapy Institute, 2021)

Ways of the horse

Horse as co regulator: The horse's large and settled physiology can act a co-regulator, supporting the child's nervous system to regulate.

Horse as Unique Feedback:  The horse provides a biofeedback mechanism and behavioural response that offers information about how the child impacts others.

Horse as non-judgmental presence:  The horse offers a non judgmental 'other' that supports feelings of safety and stress reduction.

Horse as safe attachment:   The horse provides the child with an experience of attachment needs such as safe movement, touch, holding.

Horse as motivator:  The horse focuses attention and stimulates interest and engagement

 Reference: Meg Kirby, The Equine Psychotherapy Institute, 2021

Contact us for more information!

Phone: 905-630-1909

Nancy Rushford 
PhD, MSc.OT, Reg. (Ont.), M.A
Registered Occupational Therapist/
Tara Darling
M Ed. B Ed.
Learning Consultant/
Certified Forest & Nature Practitioner