Kiron’s Method – Equine Assisted Therapy

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Anyone who has daily contact with pets doesn’t need any kind of scientific study as proof for their ability to become our therapists.However, something is missing, as Renée Lubersac (founder of therapy with horses) said – “The simple contact between a person in difficulty with a horse does not compose a therapy. We need a third element: the therapist.”

In a time where a huge amount of therapies are rising, we feel the need to explain the approach a little more.

It was around 400 a.c. when Hippocrates first used horses as therapy in an way to “regenerate his patients health”.

However, it took as until the 20th century for equine therapy to be proven by Liz Hartel (horse rider) that was at 16 years diagnosed with a serious polio strike.

Equine Therapy is the term that joins all the therapies that involve horses.

There are 3 different types of equine therapy:


Refers to treatments that use horses to help. Used mainly by physiotherapists and occupational therapists in treatments with patients that have some kind of motor dysfunction and/or mental disability. The main objectives are: improving the muscular tonus, posture, equilibrium and mobility. In this model, the horse is used primarily as an kinesio therapeutic instrument. However, it also impacts in the psychological evolution of the patient. 

b)Adapted equestrianism

This form of activity is mainly used by people that have disabilities (mental or physical) and that have reached a certain level of hippotherapy. Here, they use all disciplines of equine riding (horse jumping, vaulting, dressage).

c) Equine Assisted Therapy

Here the aim is not horseback riding. Indeed, most of the time the therapeutical work is done on the floor, without riding the horse. This kind of approach can be used during psychotherapeutic sessions (mental health, couples or family therapy, risk behaviours, addiction,…) or in coaching sessions (personal development, leadership, team building…).

The Kiron Method® is inserted in this last category. Kiron is the most famous therapist centaur in greek mythology; it symbolizes the perfect therapeutical combination between humans and horses and here the horse is considered in equal terms with humans, working as a co-therapist. According to Nathalie Durel, founder of the approach it is:

“A Therapeutical method based on vivential learning that uses equines (horses and/or ponies) as mediators between a patient / coachee  and his psychotherapist or certified Coach. It can be used in the treatment of mental health issues (psychotherapy) or in the accomplishment of existential goals that are well defined (coaching, personal development and self learning).”

The intervention areas are:

  • Equine assisted psychotherapy
  • Equine assisted coaching
  • Equine assisted learning
  • Equine assisted personal development

Why the horse?

In front of a horse you are more present, more aware of your attitudes and gestures, which allows us to clarify your non verbal communication. It’s proven that our communication is composed by three components: words (7%), tone (38%) and body language (55%).

Due to their heightened sensitivity, horses are powerful mirrors of our behaviours revealing our social skills as they can read humans non verbal behaviour really well.

Equines live in a social construction that is very similar to ours, which gives us very powerful information about our family, work and interpersonal relationships status while we interact with them.

As they don’t lie, they are a trustful information source that, combined with a therapeutical process, allow for amazing transformations. The implicit communication created in our relationship with them allows us to connect with our true intentions and postures, and therefore forces us to be more coherent in our behaviours.

To develop this method we had to create the perfect environment. In Quinta do Cavalo Kiron (Kirons Horse Farm), in Portugal, we recreate their wild conditions where they can live free  and healthy, mentally and physically being that most of our equines were rescued from animal abuse situations. Our human team is composed by an equestrian teacher, psychologists, psychotherapists, coaches and animal keepers. All of the team is trained in the Kiron Method and follow it’s deontological code.

We provide client service to many situations:

  • Individuals – Children, teenagers and adults;
  • Families – allowing a better knowledge of the dynamics in your family;
  • Couples – Allowing some consciousness on the difficulties in your relation and finding solutions;
  • Companies – Coaching, Leadership and team building initiatives
  • Several workshops with equines to all audiences

In 2010 we opened the certified training in the Kiron Method. The full training program includes 500 hrs of combined presential training and remote. This is the only certified training in Portugal and it is open to: Health technicians, Consultants, Coaches, Riding Instructors or Equine Specialists.

The Kiron Method was created to study, understand, explain and develop this area of therapy and allow the equines to shine in a whole new purpose: to heal people!


Author: Nathalie Durel, founder of Kiron’s Method

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