Program Registration Form:

Please complete the Registration Form found at the bottom of this page and bring it when you come to the farm. Our liability insurance requires that everyone completes this form.

What is the best clothing to wear?

Miniature Horse Herd Time will be spent outdoors doing physical activities with horses. Please wear comfortable and casual clothing that you don't mind getting dirty. Long pants are preferable all times of the year. Dress appropriately for the weather and it is best to layer clothing during all seasons. Participants are required to wear closed toe shoes with socks to protect their feet when working with the horses (no exceptions).

What should I expect regarding the activities with the horses?

This is not horseback riding and horse experience is not required. The focus is not riding or horsemanship, in fact the experience takes place on the ground utilizing structured activities with horses. We will teach you how to interact with the horses, so you don't need any prior horse experience. This is a very different experience from therapeutic riding programs.

Experiential, goal-oriented activities are facilitated safely with horses while utilizing their unique ability to understand and reflect human behavior. The focus is on examining sensory, behavioral, and communication skills. The process puts the participant in new and unknown situations rather than talking about situations.

Activities are selected to target different areas but all focus on improving problems solving, communication, and teamwork skills. There's no right or wrong – it is just about the experience and accomplishing goals in each person's own way. Feedback is provided without judgment from the horses and facilitators.

What is equine experiential learning?

The most well known experiential learning programs are called ropes or challenge courses. There are also many types of adventure programs, typically involving hiking, canoeing, and other outdoor activities. Experiential simply means "learning from doing." Because of the active or kinesthetic process, experiential learning has been proven to be more effective than traditional educational and behavioral change approaches.  Experiential learning also helps with providing greater retention.

Equine experiential education involves individuals interacting with horses, which are living beings each with their own unique personality, life experiences, behaviors, attitudes and moods. The focus of the experience is on building a relationship and bond with a horse. The horse is a powerful teacher that reflects how each of us uniquely communicates, approaches challenges, and addresses situations in our life. This is an introspective process where participants learn about themselves and how they interact to accomplish goals. It is insightful process that is fun while empowering learning and change.

Are the horses specially trained for this program?

Horses are not specially trained for this learning experience – they are natural teachers and facilitators. The only requirement is that the horses we use are safe and respectful to humans. Participants learn 'Equus" – the language of horses and how they naturally communicate within their herd with other horses. Program participants utilize this language to interact with the horses to achieve goals.

Why are horses used rather than other animals?

Horses are prey animals that have be hunted by predators for centuries. Their prey instinct is uniquely developed to detect and understand the energy that is projected by other creatures, including humans. Basically, the horse understands or senses our body language as well as what we are thinking and feeling. When we clearly communicate our intentions, the horse will respond by doing what we ask. If we are unclear or lack intention, trust, or integrity, then the horse will not do what we ask. It is very simple, to motivate the horse to do what you are asking it to do, you must clearly communicate with strong intention.  This creates a tremendous learning opportunity for us to learn how to better communicate and interact with people.

Bella Terra Miniature Horses

Why do you use miniature horses?

We owned and bred miniature horses before we began the Equine Adventure program. We have found that people are much more comfortable with miniature horses because of their size. As facilitators, we have worked with both miniature and full size horses. We find that people get past their fear of the horses much quicker with miniature horses and, therefore, our program is less fear based.

Our clients more quickly connect and bond with the miniature horses and this allows the focus to shift into other non-fear based areas where our clients can learn and grow. The use of miniature horses sets our program apart from other similar programs. The response from our clients is resounding – they prefer working with miniature horses because of their size and temperament!

How long is each Equine Adventure session?

Sessions for individuals and families last 1 to 2 hours. Group workshops require at least 3 hours. Typically workshops are a half day or full day, although a two day program is very powerful.

What group sizes can you accommodate?

In order to provide the best experience and maximize each individuals one-on-one time with the horses, we typically limit group sizes to 20 participants and under certain circumstances smaller groups may be required. For larger groups, please contact us to learn about possible options.

When are programs held?

Workshops and sessions are by appointment and held weekdays, evenings, and weekends. Due to the weather, we primarily work April through October, although we can hold shorter sessions with individuals and small groups during the colder months.

Where are programs held?

We hold workshops at any location with any horses. Our miniature horse farm is located in Texas Township, in Mattawan and Kalamazoo County.  For directions:  Contact Us.

Do you provide services for non-profit organizations?

We partner with many nonprofit organization to provide the Equine Adventure program for their clients and staff. We offer discounted rates for all nonprofit organizations. We also partner to seek grant funding and program sponsorship to fund programming.

How are miniature horses different than larger horse breeds?

Fully matured miniature horses are about waist high for adults (up to 38" in height at their withers) and weigh between 200 and 500 pounds. Miniature horses are their own breed and are not ponies, although most miniature horses have distant lineage to Shetland pony bloodlines. Miniature horses have been bred for temperament and are great companions for people of all ages. Miniature horses are horses in every regard, including the same instincts and physical characteristics of full size horses. There are only a few differences with miniature horses besides their size:

  • They don't wear horse shoes but are trimmed on the same schedule
  • Their teeth are not proportionately smaller compared to the rest of their body
  • They are measured in inches rather than in hands (4 inches = 1 hand)
  • They have much thicker winter coats, like ponies.

Click here to learn more about miniature horses.


Recommended Books:

  • It's Not about the Horse: It's about Overcoming Fear and Self-doubt by Wyatt Webb and Cindy Pearlman
  • What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do – Common Horse Sense by Wyatt Webb
  • Horse Sense and the Human Heart: What Horses Can Teach Us About Trust, Bonding, Creativity and Spirituality by Adele Von Rust McCormick and Marlena Deborah McCormick.

Team Building with Miniature Horses

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