Horses can't talk, but they can speak if you listen. Horses give us the wings we lack ~ Anonymous

The Pegasus Approach to Flying©

Indeed, certain individuals, including many pilots, tend not to reveal or even be sensitive to unpleasant emotional states, particularly when such states may connote weakness (Butcher, 1994; Butcher & Han, 1995).

Air crew training that focuses on personal insight and symptom management could further decrease the stigma that may be associated with symptoms of stress and, perhaps, create an atmosphere safer for self-disclosure
~ Maria Karavidas, Psy.D.

The Pegasus Approach to Flying is a specifically designed workshop program for flight crew (airline pilots and flight attendants) who are in training, currently working, or retired. On the wings of horses this program will take you from the pre-flight to landing phases of successful crew resource management, improved customer service, and management of in-flight emergencies.

Crew members also contend with unique work-related stressors such as extended periods away from home, impact on relationships, commuting, the effects of variable sleep patterns, etc. Oftentimes, the cumulative effects of these stressors have negative physical and mental consequences.

Risk assessment is fine-tuned in horses and allows them to make reasonable and fairly accurate decisions. Therefore, horses are also able to show us where our weak link resides; they are nature's teachers reminding us that we have the raw personal resources for effective problem resolution. For example, when flight crew enters the arena with the horses a simple exercise may involve having crew decide on how to ensure safety, around the horses, for themselves and their crewmembers. Horses, which are large, live beings with minds of their own, and sometimes unpredictable - may act or react in a way that would create a situation for the crew to remain calm enough to think the situation through logically in the face of the unknown. This may involve agreeing on a safety plan and assessing risk in a novel environment similar to what they may encounter in a non-routine flight incident.

Horses are excellent barometers of our emotional states and can provide honest feedback about ourselves. Horses, like effective crews, work collectively for the safety of all. We can learn a lot from horses about the "fear factor". It is when we can observe fear and stress as a natural process that we can then develop a healthier dialogue with ourselves and others.

Spring Reins of Hope has created specific exercises with the horses to help airline professionals to better cope with work-related stressors, identify what areas need improvement, and to solidify confidence in your strengths - ultimately to help you soar!

Issues that are commonly associated with the aviation world and are the focus of The Pegasus Approach to Flying include:

  • Developing the skill of "deliberate calm"
  • Team building and effective crew management skills
  • Effective stress management
  • Gaining insights that generalize to improved well-being
  • Conflict resolution
  • Assertiveness
  • Boundary setting

Resources on Professional Training and Development with Horses