Topic Progress:

The Domestication of Equus


The domestication of horses intimately effected the social evolution of the human race. Once we fully appreciate this, we begin to understand the depth of the relationship between horses and humans – a partnership that led to four of the most important and long-lasting sociological developments the human race has experienced to date; the development of language, warfare, trade, and the creation of a hierarchical society (Budiansky, 1997, Hidinger, 1997, Scalen, 1998, Chamberlin, 2006).

“I would argue that the single invention that has changed human life more than any other is the horse — by which I mean the domestication of the horse as a mount.” (Budiansky, 1997)

Once humans could ride astride a horse, they could travel further and faster than they ever thought possible, covering thousands of miles and traveling at distances of up to ninety miles a day. Scholars believe that it was due to the domestication of the horse that our modern languages came into existence as they did. The horse people of the Steppes appeared to have spoken a proto-Indo-European dialogue. Upon reconstruction, that language, now long extinct, seems to have included Sanskrit, Homeric Greek and Latin, as well as such modern languages as English, French, Russian and Persian. Due to the distances that horses could carry humans, the notion of a shared language became a reality, and communication across great distances became possible (Budiansky, 1997, Hidinger, 1997, Scalen, 1998, Bank, 1999, Chamberlin, 2006).

Budiansky (1997) reports that along with the spread of language, another important effect the domestication of horses had on cultural evolution was the ability to trade exotic items over great distances. The research of David Anthony and his team suggests that with the increased trade made possible by the domestication of equids, came social differentiation. While studying graves in the steppes of the Ukraine, Anthony and his team observed a shift from communal Mariupol-type graves to individual graves. The researchers found unprecedented quantities and varieties of exotic goods in these individual graves, such as copper ear ornaments, copper spiral bracelets, gold ornaments, and flint knives and axes.

Anthony suggests that this shift denotes a radical change in the way people perceived themselves and the world around them. The ability to travel great distances and amass wealth from other areas is thought to be a contributing factor in the transition from co-existence to conquest.

The inclusion of horses in warfare fundamentality changed the strategy used by both the Huns and the Mongols. With the help of the horse, these nomadic tribes were able to conquer such countries as China, Korea, Poland, parts of Russia, and Hungary (Hidinger, 1997) and bring death and devastation to the masses.

The Time of the Ancients

Chiron – The Wounded Healer

It is fascinating that while horses were viewed with terror and awe, they were simultaneously seen as bringing us closer to salvation. From Greek, Hindu and Celtic culture to biblical stories, horses were thought to be messengers of the Divine, capable of bringing humans into contact with the ethereal realms of the spirit world. They were also viewed as healing or therapeutic for humans throughout recorded history.

Hindu mythology tells of the horse as the messenger for the great God Vishnu who will sound the end of evil and wrongdoings on this earth. Vishnu sits astride a white winged horse who holds one hoof aloft, ready to strike the earth with such power that the earth would fall into the sea. All humanity would be destroyed, and the earth would be cleansed. Then all creation would be renovated pure and good, and evil would cease to exist (Howey, 2002).

In Persian teachings it is believed the Messiah, Sosiosh, will come on a horse and his arrival will mark the beginning of Pralaya, or “period of cosmic rest.”(Howey, 2002).

Biblical stories of Zechariah tell of God using horses and the men who rode them to spread His message, in one instance stating “these are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world” (Zechariah 6:5, New American Standard Bible).

Across the world in story and myth the horse is depicted as the link between God and mortals, pulling the sun across the sky, carrying gods and goddesses between heaven and earth, and taking people on journeys of the spirit and soul.

Chiron, the half-man, half-horse centaur of Greek mythology is credited with the invention of medicine and surgery. The myth tells a tale of this majestic centaur who was instructing a young man in the art of the hunt when he was accidentally shot and nearly died of the wound. Chiron cured himself of this deadly wound and in the process, found that he was able to heal others. Chiron lived the rest of his life healing those in need and teaching the heroes and heroines of Greek mythology the art of healing. It is said that both Achilles and Hercules were among his pupils. He taught that riding a horse would cure both wounds and diseases. Upon his death Jupiter placed him among the stars. He is known today as Sagittarius, looking down on all humanity from the heavens (Howey, 2002).

When we understand the antiquity of the relationship between horse and human, the role of horse in the social evolution of the human race, and their deeply embedded presence in our psyches and our beliefs around health and wellness, we also can begin to see their influence everywhere we look, from the names of the cars we drive, to the symbol of power the horse represents today, to the archetypal meaning of their thundering hooves through our dreams.

Key Points:

  • Chiron was shot while instructing a young man in the art of hunting and nearly died. He healed himself and through that journey discovered the healing arts. Is known in Greek Mythology as the creator of medicine and surgery.
  • The Druids, Celts, and Hindus viewed horses as both terrifying tools of destruction AND messengers of the Divine traversing the space between heaven and earth and carrying their riders on the journey between life and death.
  • Biblical stories of Zechariah tell of God sending horses (and the men who rode them) out to spread His message.
  • Hippocrates believed horseback riding was a “universal language with a healing rhythm”, and recommended that physicians prescribe riding to address mental, physical, and emotional issues.

15th-18th Century

The York Retreat









During the 15th-18th century an increasing focus on the role of animals in human healthcare lead to a variety of new advances within the human-animal relationship.

In 1792 the York Retreat was founded by the Tuke family and introduced animals as companions to psychiatric patients. This retreat is still in existence today and continues to support the concept of bringing companion animals into psychiatric care (Tuke, 1813). Also during this time period Florence Nightingale became known for her advocacy around including animals in human health. In 1859 she stated, “A small pet is often an excellent companion for the sick, for long chronic cases especially” (in Ormerod, et. al., 2005).

In 1780 Tissot wrote Medical and Surgical Gymnastics, and suggested that when riding astride a horse the walk was the most beneficial gait for the human body (Tissot, 1780). In 1870 Chassaine, a young man studying at the University of Paris, published his thesis that investigated the use of riding horses as a treatment modality for patients with neurological disorders (Evens, 1995).

Early in the 1900’s Sigmund Freud also became interested in the healing power of animals. Coming to animals late in life, Freud found great comfort in his animal partner “Jofi”. He frequently brought her into sessions to help him remain calm and relaxed. But, over time Freud started to notice the effects Jofi had on his patients, especially the children and adolescents he worked with. In his journals Freud noted that these patients seemed more willing to talk openly when Jofi was in the room, and were more willing to talk about painful issues. 

Key Points:

  • Medical literature from the 15th-18th century gives accounts of physicians from France, Italy, and Germany documenting both the psychological and physiological benefits of riding horses.
  • 1792 – The York Retreat in York, England was founded and included animals in the treatment of the mentally ill.
  • 1860 – Florence Nightingale wrote about how animals were helpful for the chronically ill.
  • 1870 – Chassignac published the first reported study on the effects of horseback riding for human health.
  • 1878 – Ghislani Durant published Horse-Back Riding: From a Medical Point of View.
  • In the early 1900s Sigmund Freud brings his dog Jofi into sessions, believing her to be an accurate judge of his patient’s character.


Lis Hartel wins the silver metal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Lis Hartel, a competitive dressage rider, contracted polio in 1943 and became paralyzed from the knee down.  She rehabilitated herself by riding horses and went on to win the silver medal in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. She was the first woman to ride for an Olympic equestrian team and the first to medal – All without the use of her lower legs. Her tenacity and courage sparked new interest in the potential of riding for rehabilitative purposes and led to the development of the adaptive (or “therapeutic”) riding industry.

Although Lis is commonly credited with the modern advent of rehabilitative riding, it was actually Norwegian physiotherapist Eilset Bodther who first organized riding as an activity for children with disabilities.

In the wider “animal-assisted” industry, Konrad Lorenz, a Nobel Prize Laureate, was honored as the “father of the field” for his two books on the subject of companion animals as healers (Lorenz, 1954).

Key Points:

  • Through the efforts of Lis Hartel, Eilset Bodther, and Ulla Harpot, riding becomes recognized as a form of rehabilitation and physiotherapy in Europe.
  • During this time, there was no specific difference between the mental and the physical. Riding was considered to be a positive activity for the whole person.
  • Writing and research done prior to, and during, this time frame focused on both the psychological and physiological benefits of the horse-human relationship.

1960s- 1980s

The Red Fox Inn, Middleburg VA

On November 2, 1969, a small group gathered at the Red Fox Inn to lay the groundwork for the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA). NARHA was formed to provide regulation and standardization for “equine-assisted activities and therapies” in the United States and Canada.

At this point in history, NARHA focused mainly on riding for the disabled, including both recreation and skill building (adaptive riding) and treatment (hippotherapy).

Meanwhile, in the early 1960’s Boris Levinson, a psychiatrist from New York, began bringing his pet dog into psychotherapy sessions. He observed how children with communication difficulties were able to change behaviors and respond with increasingly more positive affect when in the presence of his dog (Levinson, 1997). Levinson went on to write Pet-Oriented Child Psychotherapy in 1969 and Pets in Human Development in 1972.

Meanwhile, veterinarian Leo K. Bustad, DVM, PhD and a number of his colleagues were also noticing the impact of pets on their human clients’ health and happiness. This group “committed themselves to ensuring research would be completed to further explore the effects that animals have on people’s lives” (Pet Partners, 2020). Bustad is credited with introducing the term “human-animal bond”, and was influential in the creation of the Delta Society which was founded to promote research and ethical practice in the areas of “animal-assisted activities” and “animal-assisted therapies”. In the UK, the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) was formed in 1979. This group was created to promote and support the study of the human/animal bond. Later, in 1980, Ericka Friedmann’s milestone study on cardiac patients one year from discharge showed increased survival if they owned a dog. This was a transformational moment in history for human-animal bond research.

It was at this point in history that researchers began to turn their attention to the healing or restorative qualities of nature. In 1979 Roger Ulrich published his groundbreaking research on stress reduction theory. Ulrich showed research participants photos and videos of peaceful nature scenes, and of stressful, urban landscapes. Participants were constantly monitored for levels of physiological stress through heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension measures. The outcomes of his studies showed that people recovered more quickly from stress, demonstrated lowered anger or aggression responses, and reported a greater sense of happiness when they were viewing nature scenery.

Following in the footsteps of Ulrich, Kaplan & Kaplan published their research on attention restoration theory in 1989. Attention restoration theory suggests that nature can have a restorative effect on the brain’s ability to focus. These researchers suggest that the human brain is constantly asked to sort information between what to pay attention to and what to ignore. This process fatigues the brain and leads to irritation, frustration, inflexibility, giving up, stress, depression and anxiety. Kaplan & Kaplan’s research showed that time spent in nature and away from the typical activities and stimuli of daily living can help the brain rest and replenish. This immersion can be effective in both small doses like viewing nature out of a window or a quick walk through a park, or with longer excursions like a day spent in a natural setting.

In 1984 Edward O. Wilson published the landmark book “Biophilia”, which introduced the “biophilia hypothesis” or, the innate human tendency to seek connection with nature and animals. Although E.O. Wilson popularized the term “biophilia”, it was actually Erich Fromm, a German psychologist and psychoanalyst, who first used the term to describe a psychological orientation that involved being attracted to “all that is alive and vital”.

Key Points:

  • Boris Levinson studies the use of animal-assisted therapy in mental health. He writes Pet-Oriented Child Psychotherapy in 1969 and Pets in Human Development in 1972.
  • 1969 – the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) is formed.
  • In 1974 the first international congress supporting the advancement of adaptive or “therapeutic” riding and hippotherapy is held in France. This gathering of researchers and providers later becomes the Federation of Riding for the Disabled International (FRDI).
  • Mid – 1970s Leo K. Bustad, DVM, PhD is credited with introducing the term “human-animal bond”.
  • 1977 – The Delta Society is founded to support animal-assisted interventions.
  • 1979 – Roger Ulrich first publishes his research on stress reduction theory.
  • In 1980 Ericka Friedmann’s milestone study on cardiac patients one year from discharge showed increased survival if they owned a dog.
  • 1984 – E.O. Wilson publishes the landmark book “Biophilia”, addressing the innate human need for connection to nature and animals.
  • 1985 – Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is formed.
  • In 1987 the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA) separates from NARHA and forms as a separate entity.
  • 1989 – Kaplan & Kaplan publish their research on attention restoration theory.
  • 4 peer-reviewed EAA/EAT research articles were published – none studying, or including, the psychological applications of the horse-human relationship and none researching the impact of EAA/EAT on the horses.


Barbara Rector

In the early 1990s a small, dispersed group of people around the US began exploring the mental health and learning applications of engaging with horses.

At this time, Barbara Rector, passionate advocate for the rights and welfare of horses, stanch believer in the healing power of horses, and co-founder of Therapeutic Riding of Tucson (TROT), one of the oldest adaptive  or “therapeutic” riding centers in the country, was hired by Sierra Tucson, a prominent treatment center in Tucson, Arizona to create an experiential therapy and learning program including horses. The program she designed was one of the first in the country, and became the template for her Adventures in Awareness™ model of equine-facilitated learning. Barbara is considered by many to the “grandmother” of this industry, as her wisdom and vision influenced many of the pioneers of the industry, and thus her teachings spread out in what could almost be called a “grassroots” movement.

Although the idea of including horses in mental health and learning began to pick up steam in the 1990s, this way of working with horses was still considered “fringe” and wasn’t widely accepted. But, in 1996 the Equine-Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) was formed as a section of the NARHA with Barbara Rector and Boo McDaniel as the first co-presidents, marking an important step forward for this burgeoning industry.

Due to Barbara Rector’s early involvement in the field of adaptive or “therapeutic” riding, she was an active participant in the workings of NARHA, serving on the board of directors and as a member of the medical committee, and it was this very involvement that led to the birth of the EFMHA. In February of 1996 after a NARHA conference a group of interested individuals came together to discuss the idea of creating a section of NARHA that would oversee and guide the field of Equine Facilitated Mental Health. Present at that initial meeting were Barbara Rector, Boo McDaniel, Beverly Boehm, Annie Shields, Maureen Abbate (now Vidrine), Barbara Abrams, Charlie Koch, Maureen Fredrickson (now MacNamara), Jessie Frazier, Beverly Halpin, Ruth Rahimi, Marge Kittredge, Tate Pearson, Larna Whitson, Michael Kauffman, Betz Haartz, Rebecca Basile (now Bombet), Regina Jackson, Donna Grossman, Health Nelkin, and Norma Lorimer. The group decided upon the tasks that needed to be accomplished, which included creating standards, a code of ethics, definitions of EFMHA terminology, and isolating precautions and contraindications for the work.

Through her work with TROT and with Sierra Tucson, Barbara Rector had come to view horses as “sentient beings” who could “co-facilitate” experiences for humans. This sentiment became the primary value or tenant that EFMHA was founded upon, and its members were highly concerned with the welfare of the horses involved in EFMH, and also concerned with competency issues of providers and the safety risks related to including horses in mental health and learning.

Although EFMHA members had clear beliefs about how to include horses in mental health and learning, and had developed a code of ethics, specific standards, and guidelines for practice, the association decided not to develop a training and certification program. In part because of this choice, professionals hungry for knowledge and ready to learn flocked to the newly created Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).

EAGALA was founded in 1999 by Greg Kersten and Lynn Thomas, first as a training program designed to teach professionals how to use its specific model of equine-assisted psychotherapy, and later as a robust membership association with the mission of supporting its members in the provision of equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning. EAGALA’s model was similar to that of the challenge courses used in adventure therapy, using interactions with horses instead of the typical “ropes course” activities. Originally, EAGALA called the horse a “tool” and focused on using activities with horses to experiment with old and new behaviors, using a solution-oriented belief system, with the goal of increasing self-awareness and self-insight (Buck, et. al., xx). EAGALA’s training did not include equine skills or a focus on the risks or safety mitigation strategies associated with including horses in mental health or learning.

EFMHA and EAGALA’s belief systems around the role of the horse in mental health and learning and risk mitigation were in stark contrast, and neither association could agree on a middle ground. The associations went their separate ways and the industry came into its “adolescence” without a unified belief system, sense of leadership, or overarching governance.

Completely removed from the politics of EFMHA and EAGALA, a mother-daughter team of psychologists, Adele von Rust McCormick and Marlena Deborah McCormick, had been quietly offering interactions with horses based on a self-discovery and personal growth model. Through the experiences with people and horses they witnessed in their work, they wrote Horse Sense and the Human Heart, which was published in 1997. In many ways this book was foundational to the work of equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning. It was the first “text” available within the industry, and put into words much of what people were observing and experiencing in their own work with horses.

Similarly, two horse trainers, Monty Roberts and Chris Irwin, who had both ventured into the realm of self-discovery and personal growth work, published their books during this time (The Man Who Listens to Horses, Roberts, 1996 and Horses Don’t Lie, Irwin, 1998).

Key Points:

  • 1990 – The International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organization (IAHAIO) was formed  as an advisor to the United Nations.
  • 1992 – Sierra Tucson’s equine-facilitated psychotherapy program is created by Barbara Rector.
  • 1992 – Ericka Friedmann’s 1980 cardiovascular study is replicated in Australia with 5000 research subjects over three years. Results showed decrease in blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol in pet owners.
  • 1996 – The Equine-Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) forms as a section of the NARHA.
  • 1996 – Monty Roberts publishes The Man Who Listens to Horses
  • 1997 – The first equine-assisted mental health/equine-assisted learning course is offered at Prescott College taught by Barbara Rector.
  • 1997 – Linda Kohanov founds Epona Equestrian Services.
  • 1997 – The McCormicks publish Horse Sense and the Human Heart.
  • 1998 – Chris Irwin publishes Horses Don’t Lie
  • 1999 – The Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) is founded by Greg Kersten and Lynn Thomas.
  • During the 1990s, 8 peer-review EAA/EAT research articles are published – none studying, or including, the psychological applications of the horse-human relationship and none researching the impact of EAA/EAT on the horses.


Linda Kohanov and Tabula Rasa

After founding the Epona Center in 1997, Linda Kohanov immersed herself in learning about the budding industry that included horses in mental health and learning. She spent time with Barbara Rector and many of the early pioneers who were already in the field providing equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning. Through interviews with these pioneers, careful observation of human-equine interactions, and thoughtful study, Linda authored a book that marked a major turning point for the industry. Published in 2001, The Tao of Equus: A Woman’s Journey of Healing and Transformation through the Way of the Horse became an international best seller, thrusting the idea that horses might be healing or helpful to humans firmly into popular culture.

Linda Kohanov started an apprenticeship program and began teaching people about the power of horses to influence human growth and change. In 2003 Linda published her second book, Riding Between Worlds.

The idea that horses could be healing or helpful to humans became even more publicized by Wyatt Webb’s “Equine Experience” at Miraval Resort. At that time, Miraval Resort was ranked as #1 by readers of Conde` Nast and Travel and Leisure for its combination of “mindfulness” and health in the services it offered. Through its high profile guests, Miraval was instrumental in moving mindfulness, yoga, creative expression, and adventure-based activities into the mainstream. For example, Oprah Winfrey stands out as one of those touched by the Miraval experience.

Wyatt Webb worked at Sierra Tucson and learned from Barbara Rector before he was hired by Miraval Resort in 1997. Mr. Webb defined the “Equine Experience” by stating, “The Equine Experience simply allows the horse to teach you about yourself. Relationships are our richest arena for learning, if we are able to be honest with ourselves”.

Following The Tao of Equus and the popularity of Webb’s “Equine Experience”, many other books were published documenting the healing potential of the horse-human relationship, and new training organizations sprang up, offering professionals new and diverse ways of including horses in mental health and learning.

In 2008, Leif Hallberg published Walking the Way of the Horse: Exploring the Power of the Horse-Human Relationship. This book is notable because it was the first text to define equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning, differentiate between therapy and learning, and present different approaches or models of practice. It became the primary text for the few educational programs offering a course of study in equine-assisted mental health or equine-assisted learning.

Although with all the other energy going towards understanding this growing industry, between 2000-2008 a shocking 22 research papers are peer-review published specific to equine-assisted mental health or equine-assisted learning.

Key Points:

  • The Tao of Equus (2001) by Linda Kohanov becomes an international best seller. Linda goes on to publish Riding between the Worlds (2003).
  • Mary Midkiff publishes She Flies without Wings (2001).
  • Ingrid Soren publishes Zen and Horses (2002).
  • Wyatt Webb publishes It’s Not About the Horse (2003)
  • The McCormicks publish Horses and the Mystical Path (2004).
  • Barbara Rector publishes Learning with the Help of Horses (2005).
  • Leif Hallberg publishes Walking the Way of the Horse (2008), the first book to begin defining the different approaches of equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning.
  • The Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals (CBEIP) is founded by Barbara Rector and others.
  • 2004 – The Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) is founded by Molly Sweeny and others. The organization funds its first research project in 2006.
  • 2005 – Greg Kersten leaves EAGALA and opens the OK Corral Series.
  • 2006 – E3A is founded
  • 2008  – The Gestalt Equine Institute of the Rockies (GEIR) was founded by Duey Freeman and Joan Rieger.
  • 22 research papers are peer-review published specific to equine-assisted mental health or equine-assisted learning.
  • 1 study begins to examine the impact on the wellbeing of horses working in equine-assisted mental health programs.


This was a period of transition for the equine-assisted industry. NARHA formally recognized the contributions of EFMHA, and the importance of mental health and learning services as a part of the “equine-assisted activities and therapies” industry by integrating EFMHA’s code of ethics, standards, and psychosocial safety guidelines into the larger organization. This integration led to dissolving the separate sub-group that had been EFMHA, and changing the name of the larger association from NARHA to “The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International” or “PATH Intl.”.

Similarly, the Federation of Riding for the Disabled became “Horses in Education and Therapy International” (HETI), giving credence to the role of education and, like NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Association), removing the notion that this industry was primarily focused on riding instruction for those with physical disabilities.

Along with PATH Intl. and HETI, The Delta Society also went through a significant name change and re-branding effort, becoming “Pet Parters”.

In a continuing effort to validate the benefits of including horses in mental health and learning, 24 new research studies were peer-review published with 4 of these being literature reviews. Also, Kay Trotter’s book, Harnessing the Power of Equine Assisted Counseling: Adding Animal Assisted Therapy to your Practice became the first book to be published by an academic press.

Key Points:

  • 2010 – EFMHA merges with NARHA and becomes “The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International” or PATH Intl.
  • 2010 – Natural Lifemanship training organization is founded by Tim Jobe and Bettina Shultz-Jobe
  • 2011 – The Equine Psychotherapy Institute (EPI) of Australia is founded by Meg Kirby.
  • 2012 – The Delta Society becomes Pet Partners.
  • 2012 FRDI becomes HETI
  • 2011 – Kay Trotter’s book, “Harnessing the Power of Equine Assisted Counseling: Adding Animal Assisted Therapy to your Practice” is the first book to be published by a leading academic press (Routledge).
  • Many other new model-specific training programs come into being.
  • 24 research new articles are peer-review published specific to equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning. 4 of these studies are literature reviews.
  • None of the research examines the impact of equine-assisted mental health or equine-assisted learning on the equines.


Over the past seven years the industry has expanded exponentially, with a strong trend towards the creation of training programs for professionals interested in including horses in mental health and learning. Results of practice pattern research conducted by Rogers, Stewart, & Hallberg (2018) suggest that the professional training sector of this industry is more robust and financially viable than service provision.

As there is no single regulating body for equine-assisted mental or equine-assisted learning, these training programs vary greatly in terms of the quality and quantity of their educational offerings. This makes it quite difficult for consumers to be assured that the professionals offering services are knowledgable, skilled, and appropriately qualified to provide the service.

In a monumental, but widely unrecognized step forward, the American Counseling Association (ACA) published the “Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling” Competencies in 2016. All members of the ACA who wish to include any animal in their counseling services are required to actively engage in developing their competencies in the areas thus specified. Furthermore, some states specifically require counselors to abide by the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics, thereby expanding the reach of these competencies to state licensed non-members.

From 2013 to 2019 73 new research articles have been peer-review published specific to equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning, including 7 systematic or literature reviews.

Key Points:

  • Many new training programs launched, offering “certifications” for those interested in including horses in mental health or learning.
  • 73 new research articles are peer-review published about equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning.
  • 7 of these studies are systematic reviews or literature reviews.
  • 19 new books are published, 3 of which are published by major academic publishing houses (Lac, 2017 & Hallberg, 2018).
  • Stroud & Hallberg’s 2017 research sheds new light on the characteristics and practice patterns of those providing equine-assisted therapy.
  • Rogers, Stewart, & Hallberg’s 2018 research also highlights practice trends related to foundational and emerging models of EAMH and EAL.
  • The American Counseling Association publishes the “Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling Competencies”.
  • There is a burgeoning awareness of the importance of regulation, standardization, and increased competency for professionals.