The Beachwood Protocol
At Beachwood, clients do not ride horses or take care of them; the emphasis is on curative not palliative care. Nor does the Center use rescue or donated horses, but requires selected European breeds, bred since the 13th century, for the strength and intelligence required for war, and more recently the intricate levels of dressage competition. “It takes just as much time and effort to select a horse suitable for this work as it does for you to find a horse that you hope can reach Grand Prix in four to six years,” said Lynne.
“Horses are objective readers of people, as they must continually observe their environment to survive as a prey animal. “They’re constantly aware of who’s around them. And, unlike dogs or other pets, horses don’t rely on the direct influence of the people they interact with to take care of them.”
Phipps explains further. “A horse’s response is quite subtle. They move closer or farther away creating a safe space for themselves as the client feels and reacts to their own internal issues: with a horse one is never judged, shamed or embarrassed.”
In the Beachwood protocol the horse/therapist combination leads a client to achieve a state of calmness and emotional relaxation from which they can replace their automatic reactions shifting their perspective to a more normal response: technically they are building new neural pathways and strengthening existing useful synapses.
A number of people have asked how we differ from other equine therapy centers they have heard about. Typically, these groups work with children with physical or mental disabilities; a few work with adults. The emphasis is on empowering the client, usually by horseback riding and horse care.
Beachwood takes a horse-centered approach, there is no riding, the horse reads the client and responds; the client responds to the horse; a bond is formed, it’s almost like a dance.
The following video shows just how strongly a bonding can take place.