The Northern Training Program uses horses to teach communication, empathy

Learning life skills through the basics of horseback riding.

The long-distance equestrian training program serves the needs of Dawson Creek and Alberta Peace residents and provides life skills training through the basics of equestrianism.

Brian Hingley, equestrian training facilitator, runs the program in Beitry, Alta, and says it really teaches people the problem of horses, not vice versa.

“When you have a teacher of twelve pounds and they want to tell you something, you do everything you can to do what they need to do. You do everything you can to make it work,” he said. so it’s an effective component for working with individuals, ”he said.

No rides take place at the facility, Hingley added, noting that the role of horses as living, breathing, teachers – is an offer of understanding and empathy.

“If we can, we will always try to work with loose horses, without lead ropes or any auxiliaries, as this offers a realistic or easier way to respond to them as horses,” Hingley said. “And that’s why we work with horses, because a horse puts customers and puts a little pressure on participants, which is a little different than what you get in human communication.”

The focus has always been on improving communication and learning to empathize with horses, Hingley says, an activity that builds the soft skills of individuals – improving people’s communication with others in their personal and professional relationships.

Hingley says their program has been used by first responders, social workers, nurses, school teachers and other professionals who want to improve their communication skills, in addition to helping those at risk through the North Wind Health Center and other community organizations. .

“It’s actually a science program and that’s something I love too. So we can find different groups and we can play a lot of roles in the community, ”Hingley said, noting that they never change the way they work with horses, regardless of group.

Horse Lake First Nations has also been invited to participate in a training at the Baytre facility and local youth will come in May for a workshop on professional life skills.

Hingley began working with horses as a teenager, shortly after moving to Dawson Creek from Alberta, a path he never expected, but soon became a hobby and a rewarding career.

“Part of our formula is working with community organizations, the most important thing is to serve the community in every way you can,” he said.

Tom Sumer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative. Send Tom an email at

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