In partnership with the horse, EAA encourages life-skills development utilizing an experiential approach to learning.
Instructors encourage participants to spend quiet time with their horse in the arena or barn with the option to lead, groom, breathe with the horse, or be with the horse. Many participants enjoy spending time petting their horses and having quiet conversations with them in a safe place.
Participants watch horses interact with other horses out in the pasture. Students might be asked what they noticed about the horse herd behavior and interactions between horses. Often, students will identify with one of the horses in the herd, which can give an instructor insight into a student's personality as well as family and peer dynamics.
Students take time to explore the barn and observe each horse in their stall, letting them wander and be drawn to certain horses. After, students and instructors talk about what they noticed, which horses they were drawn to, about horse behavior, and any questions about what they saw.
Instructors explain the correct and unaggressive way to halter a horse. They let the participants go into their horses' stall and invite them to put their heads in the halters, respecting the horses if they choose not to.
Instructors explain the grooming tools and how to use them, then they let the participants groom their horses. While the student grooms, instructors encourage them to focus more on their interaction with the horse and the horse's responses, what he is saying, more than actually cleaning or the order of tools. For example, an instructor might ask, "What brush do you think he likes the most?" or "What is he saying to you when he does that?"
Instructors explain the horse's boundaries, safe zones, and the student's space vs. the horse's space. Students learn how to use their energy and intention to be a good leader.
Students lead their horses over and around obstacles in the arena. They are asked to focus on what the horse is saying and their own body language. This can be an eye-opening activity because often, the participants project their own feelings onto the horse. For example, a student may say, "My horse seems nervous," when, in fact, the student may not be confident about their ability to execute the exercise.
Riding can be incorporated into the lesson to reinforce what the student has learned during the unmounted activity (breathing, teamwork, body awareness, etc.) For example, after doing a leading activity on the ground, the student may be asked to focus on leading the horse from their backs using body language.