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Horses help people learn life lessons

A nudge from the nose of a zebra or a towering 2500-pound Clydesdale horse might send others running.

But Lauren Burke, a graduate student at Ohio’s Case Western Reserve University’s school for social work, instead extends a curved hand to return the equine “hello”.

Burke, in her required social work field placement, has spent the last 18 months at Ohio’s Pebble Ledge Ranch in Novelty, Ohio, learning to communicate with horses, and a zebra, in its Spirit of Leadership program.

She became “one with the herd” and taught others how to do the same in the learning-with-horses program that inspires self-discovery.

By developing a sensitivity to the body language of horses, explained Jacalyn Lowe Stevenson, Spirit of Leadership’s founder and Burke’s supervisor, humans may better understand nonverbal communication in each other — the goal of which is to enhance the group dynamic, from the corporate boardroom to the family dining room table.

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