About Healing Hooves
“Through Horses we are granted the Grace to Be … and the Space to Become …”
We’re so glad you found our website and are excited to share who we are with you and how spending time with animals can help us all in so many ways.
Simply click on each heading below to find out more, including our commitment to continuing safe operations during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Who We Are
Healing Hooves is an Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy program, and Professional Training Centre, based on a tranquil farm in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada. Through the healing power of the human animal bond our mission is to bring healing, growth, insight and hope to children, adults, parents, families and professionals.
Our trained counsellors, therapy horses, dogs and cats are looking forward to meeting you!
What We Do
At Healing Hooves you can access a wide range of services including individual and family counselling, parenting support, personal development workshops, professional training, therapeutic horsemanship and vaulting, and a wide range of online (most free) resources.
At our online and onsite Professional Training Programs and Workshops you will explore a wide range of approaches to working in the Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy fields and meet all of the training requirements for national certification with the Professional Association for Equine Facilitated Wellness.
As a parent, grandparent or other caregiver you can attend our Parenting Support sessions and access our free resources all of which are grounded in the attachment approach of Dr. Gordon Neufeld and the Neufeld Institute.
Our individual and family counselling services specialise in working with people with struggles in the areas of anxiety, depression, trauma, parent child conflict, ADHD, attachment struggles and disorders, grief and loss, self esteem struggles, stress, behavioural problems and more.
We also offer a wide range of non counselling services including personal growth workshops and sessions, therapeutic horsemanship, beginner riding, therapeutic vaulting sessions and trauma informed yoga. Our Therapeutic Stories are written for children aged five to twelve. Grounded in attachment theory and developmental science, each story covers a different theme including emotional expression, resilience, recovery from loss, unconditional love, trauma, forgiveness, and relationship conflict.
Explore whether our program is a fit and how to refer yourself, a family member or a client to our programs on our FAQ page
You can find a full description of the different services offered at Healing Hooves on Our Services page
Who we work with
We work with children (age five and up), parents, families, adults and professionals.
At Healing Hooves we firmly believe that there are many children, caregivers and adults for whom doors could be opened, trust re-learnt, and relationships built through a relationship with the right therapy horse or other animal. A key part of our vision is to help as many people as we can experience healing, hope and unconditional love through the gentle touch of a four-legged counsellor.
Clients we are qualified to help and support include those struggling with depression, anxiety, attachment disorders and struggles, grief and loss, recovery from trauma, FASD, ADD, ADHD, self esteem struggles, stress, relationship conflict, parent child conflict and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
We work with adopted and foster children and families.
While we provide support to our clients through individual counselling a key aspect of our attachment based approach, particularly when working with children, is to involve parents and other caretaking attachments in their child’s counselling as much as possible and appropriate. This may mean parent support sessions, your own sessions, or family sessions.
We sometimes recommend that children do not attend counselling sessions but instead attend our therapeutic horsemanship sessions.
We will also regularly incorporate an animal assisted play therapy approach into our sessions with children.
Funding is sometimes available for our services through McMan Youth, Supports for Permanency, Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) and through private health insurance.
We are also dedicated to supporting other professionals seeking to develop careers in the fields of Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy through professional training workshops leading to national certification, and through the sharing of resources.
For more information about the services we offer and who we work with we encourage you to check out our services page.
How we do it
Using an approach called Equine Facilitated Wellness (EFW) we invite you to partner with animals as powerful role models, teachers, friends and guides on this incredible life journey.
At Healing Hooves we incorporate specially selected and trained therapy horses and other animals with humans into a therapeutic environment and relationship. All of these interactions are carefully supervised by a mental health professional and Equestrian Canada registered and certified coach, and are designed in accordance with each client’s therapeutic needs and objectives.
We bring together aspects of different fields including attachment theory, developmental psychology, person centered counselling, play therapy, experiential learning, theraplay, AAT, therapeutic riding, therapeutic vaulting and horsemanship. This results in a uniquely effective and flexible approach, drawing upon the human animal bond to foster healing, learning and growth.
Our approach is firmly grounded in attachment theory, developmental psychology and neuroscience; an insight approach, rather than a behavioural approach. Specifically, it is grounded in the approach developed and taught by Dr. Gordon Neufeld with whom all Healing Hooves counsellors and trainers have extensive training. As such the focus is upon the relationship between a client and the key attachments in his/her life, upon the client’s longer term healing and development, and upon the needs and emotions underlying their behavior or struggles.
This is approached through creating an environment within which the client develops a positive relationship with the horses and other animals at Healing Hooves. This is then used as a bridge to develop a positive relationship with the counsellor, and with other key healthy relationships in the client’s life. The interactions and interventions facilitated with and through the therapy animals, and all other therapeutic approaches and interventions followed by Healing Hooves Counsellors, are grounded in our understanding of both human development and attachment, and the interplay between these two aspects.
This includes consideration of attachment depth, security and health; the health and maturity level of the developmental processes of emergence, adaptation and integration; the level of emotional defenses and the impact of this upon both attachment and the developmental processes; and the interplay between all of the above and a person’s ability to feel and express emotions (including frustration and alarm) in a healthy and vulnerable manner.
We explore aspects of our approach within our articles for parents, clients and professionals.
For more information about the services we offer and who we work with we encourage you to check out our services page.
Our Animal Partners
The animals we partner with are well trained, well cared for and prepared for their work with clients. The also live with us on our home based farm so are treasured members of the family who we are excited to introduce you to. We are confident you will love them too!
Our therapy horses and other animal partners at Healing Hooves are key members of our team. They all have their own personal stories leading them to Healing Hooves which has shaped them into wonderful co-counselors and therapy animals. Our clients relate to the horses and other animals they work with here and everyone usually finds that special animal partner who truly seems to understand and care about where you have been, where you are going, and what you are facing right now.
You can meet them individually by checking out our four legged professionals page.
We have published a number of therapeutic children’s stories featuring the Healing Hooves animals and sharing their stories. All proceeds from the sale of these books subsidise counselling and equine therapy sessions with low income families and/ or help finance the physical needs of our therapy horses, dogs and cats. Themes include relationship conflict and resolution, unconditional love, resilience, recovery from grief and loss, forgiveness, recovery from trauma, grace, and emotional expression.
Can You Train with us?
Yes you can!
Part of our mission at Healing Hooves is to provide other professionals, volunteers and students with professional and accessible training and resources in Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy and to support you in gaining nationally recognised certification with Pro-EFW. We have recently moved our trainings to an interactive online format (advanced trainings include small group onsite components).
You are in safe hands at Healing Hooves.
In addition to training and certification in Counselling Psychology, Social Work, Education, Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy, our counsellors and staff are also trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for trauma work, in Emotionally Focused Therapy for family work and in attachment and developmental psychology. We are also trained and certified with the Professional Association for Equine Facilitated Wellness, the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA), the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW), the Neufeld Institute, Equestrian Canada and the National Coaching Certification Program.
Learn more about our team- two and four legged members – on our meet our professionals page.
How Can You Find Out More?
For any enquiries you can reach us through our Contact page or by sending and e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Blog has lots of free resources and information including free downloads of several of our therapeutic stories.
For people interested in working in the field of Equine and/ or Animal Assisted Therapy we have a blog series just for you which answers many of the questions people often ask when getting started in these fields.
Covid 19 Protocol
While we are excited to start onsite activities again, we must continue to do our part to minimize the risk of infection from COVID-19 or any other contagious illness/disease. Here are our updated guidelines.
These guidelines/protocols are a temporary change from our regular rules. We reserve the right to change these guidelines as needed, or as directed by the medical officer of health. Please review the following protocols with your child and family as applicable, prior to attending any scheduled sessions at Healing Hooves.
- Do not – UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE – come to the Healing Hooves facility if you, or anyone in your household, have been in contact with anyone that has any symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste and smell, or digestive issues.
- Please DO NOT attend if you, or anyone in your household, have travelled internationally in the past 14 days – please stay home.
- If before or during a scheduled session the client shows any symptoms, we reserve the right to end any session early, or cancel the session.
- Please re-sign the Healing Hooves release form as it has been updated to include that there is some risk involved at this time during the Covid19 Pandemic.
Prior to arriving at the Healing Hooves facility:
Please complete the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 Self-Assessment: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/journey/covid-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx
Procedures at the Healing Hooves facility:
- Clients should arrive at the Healing Hooves facility on time for their session, and no more than 5 minutes early for their session. Please wait in your vehicle until your session starts and your instructor/ counsellor comes to greet you.
- When client arrive at the Healing Hooves facility, they must immediately use a generous amount of hand sanitiser before touching anything (including any animals) at the facility. Hand sanitizer will be supplied at the Healing Hooves facility. Alternately, you may use your own personal hand sanitizer. We encourage you to carry sanitizer with you for personal use.
- Masks are required to be worn whenever inside (including in the indoor arena).
- Wherever possible clients will maintain 2 metres physical distance from the instructor/ counsellor.
- Clients must always cough or sneeze into their elbow.
- Clients should refrain from touching their eyes, nose, mouth, and face during sessions.
- Clients will have designated areas they may use that session. The clients are to only touch and use the equipment provided to them by their instructor/ counsellor.
- Clients are not to touch anything that they don’t need to, during their session. For example, please allow your instructor/ counsellor to open gates, choose a halter and grooming equipment etc., and to tack up your horse.
- At the end of the session, client(s) will go directly to their vehicles.
Parents/ Caregivers/ Drivers:
- Parents/ anyone else accompanying a client should not enter the Healing Hooves facility unless they are required to physically assist with their child.
- If you are required to physically assist (e.g. to fit a helmet), you may only enter the Healing Hooves facility for this portion of the session.
- If siblings or anyone else accompany a client, they will be asked to stay in the vehicle for the duration of the session. If possible, please so not bring anyone other than the client to the client’s session.
- Parents that choose to wait at the Healing Hooves facility while their child’s session is in progress, and are not assisting with the session, please remain in your vehicle.
- Parents that stay and need to enter the Healing Hooves facility or interact with an animal for any reason must follow cleaning protocols as listed above for the client.
- The washroom will be available to the clients if needed.
- Doors and windows will be left open as much as possible, so we limit the amount of touching of common areas and to maximise air flow. Sessions will be kept outside where possible and safe.
- Please be ready to pick up your child immediately after their session.
- Parents must remain a minimum of 6ft apart from the Healing Hooves instructor at all times and face masks are recommended. If you touch any of the animals, we ask that you wear gloves.
Other protocols that will be followed by Healing Hooves before/after each session for your and our staff safety:
- Cleaning of any tack used by the client with saddle soap.
- Washing gloves or towels used by clients.
- Cleaning and sanitising of all equipment that was used during sessions.
- Cleaning and sanitising the sinks, washroom/toilet, and high touch areas such as door handles and light switches.