A young boy kisses the face of a dapple gray horse, who accepts with closed eyes.

Equine theatre creates ties that bind
Photo Credit: courtesy: Suzanne Latchford-Kulker

Equine Therapy


Anyone who has ever had one will tell you there’s way more to a horse than meets the eye. Among many other wonderful things, a horse is empathetic, authentic, generous of spirit, non-judgemental, dignified and gentle–all the things we wish we–and other human beings–could be.

Once upon a time, horses played a way bigger role in our lives. Knights and kings rode them in the Middle Ages. Before the industrial revolution, horses played an integral role in our lives–key players in the production of food–used to plough fields and haul goods to market, a primary means of transportation.

Then we discovered technology and tractors, trucks, cars and trains took over. All of a sudden, horses were reduced to playing second fiddle–cogs in the entertainment industry, horse racing, Olympic jumping competition, rodeo. role in Their direct influence on people’s livelihood diminished, unless you happened to be in the horse racing or show jumping business or maybe making book on the results of a horse race.

Ron Kulker leads chestnut horse as clients, some blindfolder, follow.
Ron Kulker leads a therapy session at H.E.A.L. © courtesy: H.E.A.L.

But make no mistake. Horses are back, ready to serve key roles in our lives. Over the past 15 years or so–horses are having a more and more profound effect on people’s lives. People with behaviour problems, autistic kids, veterans returning from combat, teenagers with anxiety problems, are turning to horses for help.

No longer confined to show business, horses are providing ways to help heal damaged individuals. It’s therapy known by many names–Equine Facilitated Learning, Humane Equine Assisted Learning, Equine Assisted Growth. And it’s simply a logical step forward from what horse lovers–certainly young females–have always intuitively understood on an individual basis: horses make you feel better.

It’s a form a therapy that is growing. The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, founded in 1999, now boasts 4,100 members in more than 40 countries, including Canada.

Suzanne Latchford-Kulker, who lives on farm not far from Kingston, Ontario, is the founder of Human Equine Assisted Learning, or H.E.A.L. She is a life-long lover of horses, who now practices the art of healing.

She joined Terry Haig in conversation from her farm.

Posted in Environment, Health

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2 comments on “Equine Therapy
  1. I have heard so many wonderful stories about how horses being an aid for the recovery of a certain condition or illnesses. As mentioned above, it helped autistic kids and those with behavioral problems and it is really good to know that animals have this certain talents that help us humans with our conditions. That is why I believe, that they also deserve to be taken care of. Having their equine therapy is important so that their muscles will be relaxed and to increase their strength.

  2. Avatar David Gerrior says:

    Alright, I have to know.

    Am I the only person in the world who cannot listen to the stories presented here? I have reported that I can never listen to them because all I get a screen that reads “We are so sorry but the content you requested is not available.” That message is in French so I am giving you my best direct translation – but you get the idea.

    Every time I write you guys you always say “we are looking into it”. But I never hear back from you so I am forced to be very blunt and ask the kind of questions you should have been asking yourselves.

    Here are my questions and please, this time, ANSWER ME! Do not ignore me! It is rude and impolite and is not how I remember the people of my birthplace of Montreal.

    Question 1) Does this message I receive make any sense to you? It reads:
    “We are sorry but the content you are requesting is not available.”and is only in French. But please tell me if this is a default message that appears on any of your screens? That should tell us that the issue is on your side not mine. If it was on my end I would receive a Microsoft message.

    Question 2) Am I the only person who cannot listen to your content? Has anyone else complained?
    Question 2b) If so, why not tell me so? Why ignore me?

    Have you considered the fact that I may be the only person who is interested in listening to your reports? You must have a way of tracking when people click on the report to listen to it? Otherwise how would you know if anyone is listening? Does your tracking system tell you when the error message is sent? And how many times it is sent?

    Question 3) Have you checked it out yourselves? Seems like a natural thing to do but I’m not sure you have tried it.
    Question 3b) If so, what are the results and why not tell me what you found? Why ignore me?

    Questions 4) Have you asked other people to see if they can listen to your programs?
    Questions 4b) If so, what are the results and why not tell me what you found? Why ignore me? It would be a simple check I should think?

    Question 5) You say you are looking into it but never write back and tell me anything. Marc has told me he has passed my notes on to his boss. What does this BOSS do at RCI?
    Question 5b) Can He or she resolve this problems? If not, why not? Does he/she have the ability to call in a computer specialist to resolve the problem?

    Question 6) Do you have technical support for your computer systems?
    Question 7) Can this person, if they exist, can they fix this problem? Have they tried? If so, why not tell me.
    (Questions 7b) If they have tried what were the results? Why not share those results with me?

    I love, love, love RCI and have listen for countless years (mostly during the middle of the night) and now I want to be able to continue to listen during the day. If you don’t want listeners to listen to your programs why did you fight so hard to stay on the air!

    Most of all please stop ignoring me! I do not deserve to be ignored since I have not ignored you for 40 years! I am quite annoyed at your lack of attention and concern.

    What is wrong that you cannot respond to me? I am sure this can be fixed if only you would spend more than a few minutes scratching your heads and shrugging your shoulders and saying “Gee, I don’t know”.

    I feel terrible being forced to write such a harshly worded note, but I feel you have totally ignored me and perhaps by extension ignored many listeners who may be experiencing the same problems.

    Besides, I am trying my best to listen to the programs and I think you have more of a responsibility to investigate the problem as opposed to shrugging your shoulders and saying “I don’t know”.

    That actually might not be so bad but you don’t even tell me you don’t know!!

    So, if you think I am a great “pain in the ass” just let me know. I can easily turn off RCI and never think about it again if that’s your attitude. That’s not to say I would be disappointed but if that’s your reality then so be it.


    David Gerrior
    Victoria, BC