Horsemanship at Chrysalis School

Chrysalis School, tucked away in the beautiful mountains of Eureka, MT, is excited to announce the expansion of their equine program. Welcoming Alexandra Mufson to the team, Chrysalis is reimagining how equine involvement can encourage the therapeutic process. With a professional background working with troubled horses and their human families, Alex encourages her students to consider the horse’s experience as different from their own by teaching them to better read and understand the horse’s emotional state.

Horsemanship at Chrysalis is an experiential learning process that facilitates deeper insight into concepts such as empathy, confidence, patience, engagement, effort and communication by considering the horse’s point of view. Quality horsemanship involves a rich understanding of the horse’s experience and considers how relationship and trust can be built between the horse and the human. Using the horse’s experience as the entry point to horsemanship opens doors to self-awareness, vulnerability and empathy that other ways of engaging with horses, both within and outside of the therapeutic context, do not. The horse is not present to serve the person’s needs as a riding animal, a therapeutic prop, or any other form of object, but a sentient being with unique experiences and a valid voice in the relationship.

This paradigm shift, where the horse is no longer seen only relative to his or her usefulness to the human, lends itself well to the relationship-based therapy that Chrysalis offers its students and their families. Students are asked to reflect in writing on each session they spend with a horse, asking themselves questions about how the horse felt about the relationship and what they noticed about their own process. Many students will bring these thoughts with them to therapy in the days following, often leading to profound insights regarding their human family relationships, and empowering them to make their own change.

Chrysalis School is an all-girls therapeutic boarding school in northwest Montana for ages 13-18. Our mission is to provide the best quality therapeutic services, education and experiential opportunities to adolescents and their families in the context of a warm and nurturing residential boarding school environment while maintaining a commitment to integrity in all that we do.

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Alex Mufson