What is Equine Assisted Learning?

Personal Development While Using ‘Horse Sense’

Equine Assisted Learning is an experiential approach to teaching life skills using horses. Here at Abbey Gardens we have two critically endangered Ojibwe Horses, Sammy and Maple, as well as a miniature appaloosa horse, Flapjack. Our EAL program offers a unique experience to get up close and personal with this special breed while learning life skills in a fun and interactive way. The Ojibwe Horse was formerly known as the Lac La Croix Pony, the name officially changed in 2019.

Why Horses?

Working with horses teaches lessons that we can apply to our lives and retain far longer than sitting in ‘just another classroom’. Participants are empowered as they work through group exercises with a focus on developing individual qualities while having fun.


Clear Communicaters

Horses communicate clearly, honestly and instantly, they cannot lie or over think a situation.


Keen Senses

They are a prey animal so their senses are very keen. They can hear our heart beat and they will react to the slightest changes within a team – allowing facilitators to find those “teachable moments”.


Teamwork Ethic

In a horse’s world, teamwork is respected and expected. Any conflicts are handled swiftly so that life in the herd maintains balance. Horses respect fair consequences.


Leadership roles

Herds are to horses as teams are to people. Horses look for strong leadership. Our participants learn to step up because if a horse doesn’t have a leader, they will become the leader.


Strong listeners

Horses communicate in the same way with people – that is why listening to what horses have to say (non-verbally) is powerful. Powerful enough to inspire change


naturally intuitive

Horses may be constantly assessing us, but they will never judge us. By their intuitive nature, horses can provide facilitators with a window into the participant’s personality.



By including horses in specially designed learning programs, participants are given the opportunity for self-discovery.


excellent teachers

The horse does the teaching; facilitators are there to offer explanation and provide guidance as they work through the solution.

unleash your potential

Abbey Gardens Pony Powered Learning Experience (APPLE) is founded on the Certified Building Block™ program, which is the first nationally recognized Equine Assisted Learning program. This Equine Assisted Learning program series was originally designed to facilitate the building of personal development skills, while ‘using horse sense’.

Working together with our Ojibwe Horses, participants will learn appropriate assertiveness, how to set boundaries, build strong communication skills and develop foundations for leadership. Unleash your potential with customized equine programming at Abbey Gardens.

Pick the APPLE program for you

Visit the Abbey Gardens program calendar for upcoming APPLE programs.  Programs can be customized to suit your needs and learning objectives. Contact us to start customizing your experience.

Pony Time

Our ponies are the celebrities of Abbey Gardens…everyone wants to meet them! Get your chance to go beyond the paddock gate with one of our unique Pony Times! Meet our rare, Ojibwe Horses, take selfies and give a horse a hug during your time with us. Each session is tailored to meet the needs and abilities of the group, but includes a combination of grooming, feeding, walking, and working on basic commands. Pony Times are offered Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 11 am throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Get your chance to get up close! Pony Time experiences are 45 minutes for $25 per person. Minimum group size of 2. Children must be accompanied by an adult.


A handsome pair of brothers, two of only about 200 Ojibwe horses in existence, and their miniature appaloosa companion are seeking new friends at Abbey Gardens. Must enjoy grooming sessions, long walks to the pond for swimming, and celery. A sense of humour is an asset. 

Did you know that our ponies are almost exclusively cared for by a volunteer pony team? The volunteers work with our programming staff to ensure the boys are staying healthy, eating right, and looking their best (they reeeeeally enjoy their grooming dates!). Plus they’re great company. The boys are looking for some new companions to join the team, in particular for a few hours on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays from 10am-12pm. If you like horses, or are interested in getting to know this unique heritage breed better, we’d love to have you! Email cara@abbeygardens.ca to learn more.

Be Your Best Self

Sometimes we have areas of ourselves we know we need to work on … but it’s tough!

Abbey Gardens offers 1 ½ hour, equine guided, one on one customized programming focussed on building confidence, social and communication skills, goal setting and overcoming barriers: $80/session

Taking The Reins Summer Camp

What do you get when you combine horses, young people and leadership skills training? Taking the Reins! This program will foster confidence and leadership skills in a safe outdoor environment.

Each day includes an introduction to the art and science of horsemanship, hands-on in all aspects of the care, management and training of our ponies: learning to properly catch, groom and handle our rare breed ambassadors. Fun horse focussed activities will be interspersed with Equine Assisted Learning sessions. Using our powerful teachers, Sammy, Maple and Flapjack, participants will develop confidence, self-awareness about their behaviour, and alternative skills to help them overcome challenges and cope with the social pressures they face today. Taking the Reins! challenges individuals to discover themselves and be inspired to reach their full potential as they confidently grow into young leaders.

All horsemanship is based on ground training techniques and care, there is no riding.

Register for summer camp on our program registration page!

Professional Development

While many things are sold as “team building,” few have actual impact. They may be fun, such as playing paintball, but do they change anything; do they create a viable return on investment for the organization?

These workshops are fun, memorable and unique events but also deliver practical action plans for how to translate what was learnt back at work.  

Birthday Parties

Say cheese! Our ponies are happy to put on their party hats and entertain everyone. Let us enhance your celebration…add ponies to your party! Children get to meet the ponies, groom them, walk them, and of course, take selfies! Have lunch under the pavillion across from the paddock and play in the Enchanted Forest while you’re here!

We can accommodate groups as large as 9 children. Have more party-goers? Split your group- half are in the paddock, half play in the Enchanted Forest and then switch! $25 per child. Contact cara@abbeygardens.ca to book your party.

Ladies Night

As women, we tend to leave ourselves last on the list of priorities, which can cause us to lose touch with our authentic selves, the creative, confident, purpose filled ones we were meant to be.

Our ponies are terrific teachers and help us find those ‘ah-ha’ moments.  They will help push you out of your comfort zone allowing you to grow in confidence in fun new ways. You will come away a more courageous, self-aware and excited you!

Date Night

Did you ever think that the missing piece to improving communication styles, conflict resolution, self-expression and your relationship just might be…A PONY?

Our Pony Powered date nights are designed to build relationship skills in a relaxed, interesting way as you, your partner and equine team member problem solve through exercises that will challenge you to see alternative perspectives.  Programs can be customized to suit your needs and learning objectives. Contact us to start customizing your experience.

About our APPLE facilitator…

Lesley has loved horses for as long as she can remember! She started riding at the age of 9 when her military father was stationed in West Africa, taking lessons with the local cavalry squadron. Lesley took a year off after high school to study for, and receive her British Horse Society Instructors certification. In the many, many years since she has competed in 3 Day Eventing as well as coached teams and individuals to competition level in equine sports as diverse as the Prince Philip Cup mounted games and Canadian Pony Club Tetrathlon. Over the years Lesley’s coaching and training style has evolved to include elements of Natural Horsemanship and traditional methods along with her own common sense approach. She was thrilled when she was able to add Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator certification, from the best-in-class Dreamwinds Centre, to her credentials. Lesley is excited about her partnership with Abbey Gardens, facilitating EAL programming and raising awareness of Abbey Garden’s critically endangered Ojibwe Horses.


“Some of the lessons I learned during Apple can be applied with staff and customers at work.  Thank you for a great session!”

“Apple taught me to live in the moment and communicate clearly with my peers and coworkers. “

“We sent our two kids to the pony camp at Abbey Gardens and they both adored it. They came home every night filled with stories of the day’s activities and a strong desire to return the next day. The instructors were warm and informative, the activities were pitched at just the right level, and the ponies were sweet and approachable. Abbey Gardens is also the perfect setting for the camp: a beautiful place with all sorts of other great things to do. This was a real highlight of our summer – Malcolm Thorburn “

Contact Us To Learn More

Be sure to follow on Facebook for news and resources!

Find us at 1012 Garden Gate Drive, Haliburton,ON.     705.754.GROW (4769)

We’re always looking for youth interested in making a difference in their community.
Whether you’re looking to volunteer once or get involved with a regular role, we have something for you! Volunteering with us is a great way to gain skills in gardening, ecology, education, livestock care and retail management all while gaining your Community Service Hours. Browse the volunteer roles above to find the one that's right for you or check out our Leaders In Training program below- exclusively for youth!

Leaders in Training (LIT) Program

Experience the fun of camp while learning leadership skills through our Leaders in Training (LIT) program! Work alongside an experienced educator to deliver camp programs this season. LIT's practice their skills by leading games, crafts and activities and shadowing education staff during camp programs.  A hands-on opportunity to cultivate self-awareness, communication and cooperation skills all while getting community service hours.
What makes our Leaders in Training program so unique? A one-of-a-kind opportunity to participate in a 3 hour professional development session during an orientation day prior to your camp experience....with our horses! Working with our ponies and experienced trainers, LIT's complete activities with our ponies designed to help identify leadership styles, gain confidence and learn appropriate assertiveness. The orientation day is held on Friday June 30th from 9:30am-4:30pm. Cost is $50 per person (includes lunch).
Our Leaders in Training program is perfect for youth ages 15-17.
To get started, submit a cover letter and resume to Irene Heaven, irene@abbeygardens.ca by June 16th. Cover letter should express why you'd like to take part in this program, as well as the camp(s) you'd like to assist with and the dates you're available. Please note that you must attend the orientation day to participate in our Leaders in Training Program. See our CAMP BROCHURE for a list of camps to choose from.