The Potential of Human–Horse Attachment in Creating Favorable Settings for Professional Care: A Study of Adolescents’ Visit to a Farm
1.1. Horses as Potential Attachment Figures
1.2. Horses in the Creation of Therapeutic Space: The Application of Pierce’s Model
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Participants and Setting
2.3. The EASEL Session
3.1. Proximity of Horses; Appealing Activity
Always when you go near a horse, you feel sort of, a little bit, that you would like to stroke it.
I feel so small because they [the horses] are so big.(a girl, Pirjo)
I felt the horse acted like a magnet. Although I didn’t want to go to face the horse, I felt the horse was very attractive, and it made me want to face it.(a girl, Anne)
So, first I thought they might eat me without a bite because they are so big and they are also so young still, and I saw earlier that they nibbled on each other. But instead, they were just nice, although another one (Snuffkin) was going to eat my handbag, but he was just as nice as the others because he came to say hello to me.
“Very sociable horses—came immediately over, came to see us, and I was like [expressing surprise] ‘uu uuu’”.
3.2. Safe Haven; Unique Situation
I just, I was sort of like, I was calm when I watched the horses.(a boy, Matti)
They are so calm, I could be here for a long time just watching them. It’s sort of like they are standing and not doing anything… nevertheless, they look like they are doing something all the time.(a boy, Pekka)
At first I felt a little bit nervous, but after I was near the horses and one of the horses was eating, it was doing nothing, so it made me calm, it made the situation peaceful.(a girl, Venla)
Yet I dared to go into the paddock. And one of them, a black horse [the 5-year-old mare] was so nice. She accepted me, she totally accepted me.
3.3. Secure Base; Accurate Environment
The good side of a horse is that it does not think bad of you, or evil things about you.
It was also good that the horses slowly get used to you as they approach you. And if you are not in a good mindset, then the animals will easily run away if you’re not in a good mindset, they won’t obey. But if you go near them when you are calm, you can work better with them.
I didn’t get nervous, because I saw that you [speaking to the youth worker] were so confident with the horses. I couldn’t help facing the horses. I just trusted you.
3.4. Separation Distress; Space for Self-Reflection
She could just have... so that she was in that mood where she didn’t feel anything, and if someone would have come too near to her, she may have sensed something which didn’t feel so good. She may have thought that there was a threat, or that it was in her nature to be a little bit... If someone new would come to see her for the first time, she might wonder if they are coming to poke her. Well, she is a little bit independent.
It can also be the sort of feeling that if someone, a type of person who is not at all interested in you or anyone else, and if someone gets too close to that person, it would be like he would be in his own bubble where nobody is not allowed to step in. It is just those horses, for example that horse, who was eating alone. So it raised in me the feeling that if I would be eating in peace, I wouldn’t like to be disturbed either when I am eating.
- The other one [of the horses] looked at us for quite a long time, it looked for, sort of a long time.
- Youth worker:
- Could you explain more?
- So I wondered why I am still standing here.
… and then I felt a little bit that [the horses] first looked at us and they noticed that we are here and we are going to remain here for a little while, it was sort of like, to them that we would be like air to them.
I have one thing on my mind … It was something I didn’t understand at first, or something I have maybe only partly noticed before. When meeting people or animals, regardless of whether it’s people or animals, I feel I am a little reserved. It was then when the horse headed off toward the shelter in the paddock. So then at that moment, I didn’t want to go near the horse, I didn’t want to be … I didn’t want to find myself being made the center of attention.
When I was first brought to this place, I didn’t even want to greet or pet the dogs in the garden because I felt too shy. After these experiences, I suddenly realized that in new situations, I am always too nervous to meet new people or animals. But after being in that new situation for a while, I gradually dared to reach out to others. I think it has been the same way with you guys, and I realized it just now when I met the horses in the paddock. Maybe other people think that I don’t want to get familiar with them because I am a little bit reserved, but it takes time for me to face others. After being with others for a while, I start to open up to people and let them in.
Conflicts of Interest
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Törmälehto, E.; Korkiamäki, R. The Potential of Human–Horse Attachment in Creating Favorable Settings for Professional Care: A Study of Adolescents’ Visit to a Farm. Animals 2020, 10, 1707. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091707
Törmälehto E, Korkiamäki R. The Potential of Human–Horse Attachment in Creating Favorable Settings for Professional Care: A Study of Adolescents’ Visit to a Farm. Animals. 2020; 10(9):1707. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091707Chicago/Turabian Style
Törmälehto, Erna, and Riikka Korkiamäki. 2020. "The Potential of Human–Horse Attachment in Creating Favorable Settings for Professional Care: A Study of Adolescents’ Visit to a Farm" Animals 10, no. 9: 1707. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091707