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what we do


Westcoast Nature Therapies & Learning Society works to develop and support model standards of practice in the areas of:

  • Nature-based, equine-facilitated and animal-assisted psychotherapy and learning

  • Nature-based and equine-assisted learning Healing & Wellness Programs

  • Holistic training for young equestrians with a focus on rider self-confidence and equine welfare

  • Internship opportunities for students in any related field

  • Program-specific equine retraining, acquisition and placement

  • Continuing Education & Research for professionals in our field

  • Grant writing resources and program sustainability support


who we do it for


Westcoast Nature Therapies & Learning Society focuses efforts on programs and ideas serving the following communities:

  • Youth who may be identified as “at risk”, including but not limited to, children/teens in foster care, newly formed families through foster and adoption, accused bullies and victims of bullying, and children living in extreme poverty or homelessness.

  • Adults and youth who have special needs, including but not limited to, Autism, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, learning disorders, communication disorders, visual impairment, hearing impairment, traumatic injury and genetic disorders.

  • Adults and youth who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, OCD, loss of self-esteem, body image and eating disorders, bullying and addiction.

  • Adults and youth whose lives have been impacted by trauma or abuse.

  • Individuals and families managing chronic lifestyle challenges, including but not limited to, cancer or serious illness diagnosis and treatment, hospice, loss of a loved one, divorce, deployment and blended families/foster arrangements.

  • Groups and individuals within non-profit, corporate and other business communities or organizations seeking wellness, self-care, leadership, team-building and other custom educational retreats and trainings.

  • Continuing education opportunities for children and adults to learn about, become inspired by, and develop stewardship for nature, domestic animals, wildlife, and each other.


why we do it


The health and wellness of our country is worsening; and many do not have access to services. Additionally, many with disabilities also struggle with mental health. We are dedicated to providing innovative and effective equine-facilitated and nature-based services, so that we may positively affect the lives of others, and in turn the whole of our society, regardless of ability to pay.


Research supports the following health benefits for individuals of all ages, who participate in equine-facilitated and animal-assisted activities and therapies: 

Physica Health

physical health

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Overall improved fitness – therapeutic riding, in particular, can help to develop muscular strength, core strength, posture and balance

  • A diminishing of overall physical pain; and in some cases, a reduction in the amount of medications some individuals need. Improved breathing patterns and ability to control breathing in stressful situations

  • Increased physical relaxation and flexibility

mental health

  • A reduction in initial resistance that might accompany the idea of enrolling in therapy

  • Increased motivation and openness during therapy sessions – participants stated enjoying sessions more, and were less stressed, when it included horses or other animals; and/or took place in a non-clinical environment. Increased release of serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin – all hormones that can play a part in elevating moods

  • Reduced anxiety – the simple act of petting horses, and other animals, releases an automatic relaxation response

  • A sense of comfort in times of need

  • Reduced loneliness

  • Improved self-control and coping skills

  • Improved recall of memories and sequencing of temporal events in individuals with head injuries or chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

  • Ability to recognize maladaptive patterns

  • Overall improved fitness – strength, balance, breathing and flexibility

  • Increased communication and socialization Increased confidence and self-esteem

  • Improved self-regulation and focus

  • Improved cognitive processing and learning A greater sense of independence for Children with Autism (6)

  • Many children with autism feel a deep bond with animals and feel that they are able to relate better than to humans.

  • Children with autism are engaged in significantly greater use of language, as well as social interaction, in therapy sessions that incorporated animals compared to therapy sessions without them. For At-Risk Youth (7)

  • Experiential learning with horses, and other animals, has been shown to help individuals recognize maladaptive behaviors, feelings, and attitudes; which then allows exploration and practice of alternatives to break these patterns. In the case of at-risk youth, it may target skills of self-regulation, communication, self-advocacy, empathy, responsibility and self-awareness, creating a path to positive behavior through adolescence and early adulthood.

Mental Health
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