The use of metaphors in Equine Assisted Learning [EAL] can provide opportunities for effecting positive change in a client’s daily life.  A metaphor can be understood as one thing conceived as representing another. Some examples that I have experienced with clients are: “this horse won’t behave, reminds me of one of my friends”; a barrel laid down on its side represented a CT scanner for someone recovering from cancer. While one of my horses stood in the round pen, my client’s thoughts were of a manager standing in his office.  A multicolored parachute represented a client’s oasis.  These are non-directive metaphors which the client creates.

Metaphors assist me to understand how clients are experiencing their world and help to raise their awareness. Using metaphors allows clients to provide a visual of their story safely and in a non-judgemental environment.  As facilitator of this process, my role is to help clients use their metaphors and symbols for self-discovery and self-development-to start untangling obstacles that are holding them back. Directive metaphors are useful during professional development sessions. For example, during team building, I may ask “if teamwork is required to move this horse over an obstacle, then how will you “team” with others at work to solve issues?

Metaphors can be a powerful catalyst for effecting change in aspects of a client’s life- it is about transferrable learning from the horses to life beyond.

“Horses are a perfect metaphor for life: there are no guarantees and virtually no limits.” – Jane Savoie.

Anne Porteous, owner of Sierra Acres Equine Assisted Learning Program can be contacted on Facebook, or For more information about services go to


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