Equine Assisted Organizations and Training

 Equine Assisted Organizations and Training

All of us begin our search for understanding the field of EAP/EAL trying to grasp what it is exactly. Perhaps reviewing the history of the different organizations will help you find your ‘fit.’ My history in the field actively began in 1998 when I went online to search for equine assisted psychotherapy and found three hits [today there are over eighty pages]. Two of the hits were for Equine Services, the training organization Greg Kersten owned that became EAGALA and now OK CORRAL SERIES. The second one was a NARHA (now PATH, Intl) based link which eventually led to Boo McDaniels’ Horses and Healing conference. Thus I began my search. ~Pam Salem  (BIO)

We hope this aids your own journey.

Equine Assisted Learning and Psychotherapy is a technique that “…honors and integrates natural horse and herd behavior as a model for human mental and emotional health…” (Greg Kersten, Founder EAGALA and EAL/EAP…OK CORRAL SERIES)


Whatever training you may get or whatever model you follow, you can adapt it to your own experience and your own style.  As Bruce Wilkinson writes in The Dream Giver: “You are the only person exactly like you in the Universe. No one else can do your dream.”   Only you have the experience that is exactly the right match for the work you are to do. 

So, indeed, “you are your own best asset~! ™“  You can have absolute confidence in that and still be open to learning about a variety of approaches to equine assisted work, and meeting the necessary standards.

Below are the membership organizations in rough chronological order.

EFMHA (now PATH) The Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association began as a subcommittee of NARHA in 1994 according to the chronological history at the former EGEA, and EFMHA was granted section status by NARHA in 1996. Co-founder Isabella “Boo” McDaniel held Horses & Healing conferences at her Pony Farm in New Hampshire. Boo has written an article about the founding of EFMHA that was published by NARHA in their Winter 1998 magazine. Contact PATH for a copy of the article. The other co-founder, Barbara Rector, continues to train individuals through her Adventures in Awareness [AIA] programs. In 2010, NARHA incorporated EFMHA into the newly named PATH Intl (Professional Horsemanship of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International).  The Yahoo groups EFMHE forum once hosted a wealth of information.

Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning   (PATH)
Adventures in Awareness http://www.adventuresinawareness.net/  Barbara Rector

EPONAQUEST Linda Kohanov established Epona Equestrian Services in 1997. Her Tao of Equus was published in 2001. Riding Between the Worlds was published in 2003. While not a membership organization like the other organizations, EPONAQUEST provides holistic and spiritual approaches to acquiring emotional fitness skills, including creativity workshops as well as The Eponaquest Apprenticeship ProgramBest Practice Guidelines for Epona-approved instructors.  Starting in 2013, apprentices also began receiving instruction in how to teach The Five Roles of a Master Herder in corporate, educational, personal development, equestrian, and family systems contexts. This model, based on research Linda first presented in The Power of the Herd, has since expanded into another book, The Five Roles of a Master Herder. “While I was intrigued and most certainly inspired by the potential of equine-facilitated therapy, I was most interested in partnering with horses to help so-called ‘well-adjusted’ people learn to how to excel in life and work.”

EAGALA , the Equine Assisted Growth & Learning Association, was formed in July 1999 out of the work begun by Greg Kersten and Lynn Thomas in Kersten’s business, Equine Services. Greg Kersten had begun, some years before, working with adjudicated youth near Washington, DC, rewarding them with visits to the horses when they met their requirements. Soon Kersten, a trained alcohol and drug counselor, developed a system of exercises that he took with him to Turn-About Ranch, a residential program in Utah, where he met Lynn Thomas, a wilderness guide, who was impressed with his results. Thomas then earned a social work degree before Eagala formed. Lanier Cordell was instrumental in logo creation/selection and contributed to the marketing of Eagala. In 1998 I was in touch via email with Lynn Thomas during the formation of Eagala as a non profit association, the selection of Board Members, and the assorted questions about non profit application. A conference was held in Utah in 1999 and in Lubbock, TX, in 2000 with 100+- people in attendance.  In 2002 a committee was formed to study the expansion of Equine Assisted Learning. In 2004 just one Eagala training hosted 80 people at $500 per person with the revenues that year approaching one million (the figures can be obtained from the Eagala IRS 990 form, public record). In 2005, at the conference in Primm, NV, it was announced that Eagala would focus totally on equine assisted psychotherapy and not expand into equine assisted learning in order to establish standards and promote the Eagala model in the mental health field with the objective of receiving reimbursement from insurance for EAP, a decision Kersten opposed (limiting it to EAP). He also opposed Board members doing Eagala trainings and making money from Eagala while serving on the Board of Directors which he considered a conflict of interest.

During that shift, the Eagala Board of Directors voted in Nov 2005 to remove Greg Kersten as the Executive Director from the organization he established with his intellectual property. Thomas was retained as executive director by the Board of Directors. Kersten sued for financial restitution of his intellectual property, was never compensated, but was awarded the right to use his own intellectual property and stop Eagala’s use of it. Eagala’s 990 form showed legal expenses of $90,000. The original Eagala training manuals were changed and an Eagala “Model” became branded by Thomas and the new Board of Directors. Currently Eagala promotes its Model for both EAP and EAL as well as corporate work, all requiring a therapist in the team.

In Nov 2020, another Board of Directors removed Lynn Thomas as CEO of Eagala. Most of the administrative staff and a group of trainers resigned and left with her to form two new organizations: https://www.facebook.com/ArenasForChange/
Horses for Mental Health (HMH)

OK CORRAL SERIES Greg Kersten established this EAP training organization after his disputed departure from Eagala in Nov 2005. Kersten’s talent and creativity continue to benefit the equine assisted community. The OK Corral trains nationally and internationally, and the website lists over 500 members. Kersten offers a series of innovative seminar/workshops based on the different applications of EAP/EAL he has created. Signature exercises were created by Greg Kersten with the help of countless at-risk youth he served in the 1980s and 1990s.  The exercises were first published and copyrighted in the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy training manual, published by Equine Services, Inc. in 1995.  New exercises are being created every day, but these exercises have become synonymous with Greg Kersten and EAP. OK Corral publishes a newsletter called the Equine Assisted Networker that supplies current news and information for the equine assisted field.

EGEA  the Equine Guided Education Association was established in 2003 by Ariana Strozzi to promote equine guided education, a holistic model based on her program of Leadership & Horses and Somatic Coaching. After Eagala made the decision to focus on EAP, EGEA offered conferences and “think-tanks” to promote EAL. The work is continued under the name of    https://www.skyhorseacademy.com/

History of EGEA: EGEA President, Ariana Strozzi began incorporating horses into self development programs including leadership, coaching, and corporate team building in the late 1980’s. She quickly learned that magic was in the midst and has been fascinated with the unique and profound way that horses can touch humans on every level of their reality ever since.

In 1999 she coined the term, Equine Guided Education, and began to consider the long term needs of this new and upcoming field of work. As Eagala and Efmha formed, her students and other professionals, asked her to form an association for professionals as well. The early 2000’s were rich with various ‘think tank’ groups envisioning the future of the industry and what was needed. Questions asked included, “What is the role of the horse-really?” “What are the various applications or modalities possible?” “What does it take to develop competency to facilitate this work?” “Who should be the governing body?” And so on….

Ariana Strozzi gathered many “thought leaders” together. She created different “think tanks” to discuss each question. She listened. She watched the field develop. She asked more questions.

After much research, collaborative conversations and dialogue, Ariana Strozzi brought together a founding board for EGEA. In late 2003, EGEA was co-founded by Ariana Strozzi, June Gunter, Alyssa Aubrey, and Gaby Fabian. EGEA is forever grateful for these individuals who put their whole-hearted efforts into making EGEA a reality.

EAHAE The European Association for Horse Assisted Education was founded in 2004 by Gerhard Krebs.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/EAHAEinternational/

The EAHAE International (former European) Association for Horse Assisted Education is a worldwide platform for information, communication, education, certification, research and publication of every kind of Horse Assisted Education.
The vision of the EAHAE is to establish and develop Horse Assisted Education as a general form of personal and professional development in enterprises, organizations, institutions, societies, and for personal purposes.

E3A the Equine Experiential Education Association was founded July 2008 by a core group to provide an international professional membership organization that builds, delivers, and supports excellence in the field of Equine Assisted Learning. The training and services are specific to practitioners interested in building their professional facilitation skills in the coaching, leadership, corporate and personal development fields. Each team member is trained in horse handling and communication as well as facilitation skills so each team member is knowledgeable in a well-balanced team.  E3A’s facilitation model is based on adult experiential learning and facilitation theories and methods (Kolb, Pfeiffer- Jones). E3A focuses on the effective facilitation of Equine Assisted Learning development programs that cater to corporate, coaching, leadership, team building, Personal Development and Wellness, and educational clientele See model difference description here.
http://www.e3assoc.org/Equine-Experiential-Education-eNewsletter   https://www.facebook.com/E3Assoc
E3A Five Question Model
E3A hosted its first international conference in Sept 2017.
http://e3assoc.org/E3AConference  2019 International E3A Conference

https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/  The CliftonStrengths assessment is essential for empowering people to set and achieve their goals and accomplish great things.

Chris Irwin has renamed his EAPD Equine-Assisted Personal Development  program  INTERNAL COMPASS.  With Internal Compass Chris Irwin brings the theme of “We are feeling the vulnerability of uncertainty. There is no map. We must learn how to connect with our intuition, our inner compass, for navigating the unknown. When the way forward is not clear we must connect with our unconscious mind and listen to our primal wisdom so we can embrace our vulnerability with confidence and enthusiasm.”   Participants learn how to communicate respectfully and consistently with their personal core – their primal energy – so that self-assurance balanced with empathy is expressed through non-verbal behavior. Irwin Insights raises the bar of EA programs by recognizing horses as sentient beings. Respect, focus, trust and willingness from horses are earned by the integrity of our actions. “Sigmund Freud said that the human ego merges with the unconscious mind like a rider with a horse. This is the ride of our lives!”

Lynn Baskfield now offers Equine Guided Coaching and Education through SpiritDance, a follow-on to the successful apprenticeship program for Equine Guided Professionals she co-founded through Wisdom Horse Coaching in 2004.  You can do your program from anywhere in the world.                                    https://www.equinecoaching.com/professional-development.html

NATURAL LIFEMANSHIP Certification Trainings with Tim and Bettina Jobe. As the original Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP™), NL is based on contemporary medical research that explains the physiological and psychological impact of chronic stress and traumatic insults on human development beginning in utero and throughout the lifespan. Founded on this science Natural Lifemanship views and treats psychological and behavioral disorders through a trauma lens by intentionally using horse physiology to regulate human physiology, and horse psychology to heal human psychology. In TF-EAP™ the relationship between the client and their horse is the foundation for healing and every interaction between the horse and human, whether on the ground or mounted, has a therapeutic purpose. https://naturallifemanship.com/training-certification/mental-health-practitioners 



IFEAL QUALIFICATIONS  http://ifealqualifications.com/ UK-based IFEAL Qualifications was established in 2007, as a professional training that has the depth and psychological competency needed to do justice to any equine assisted facilitation, coaching and psychotherapy interventions. They realised the need for a systematic method in order to best consider and validate the complex process and outcomes of the Facilitator-Horse-Client alliance. Hale Court Farm House, Beech Green Lane, Withyham, East Sussex, TN7 4DD

We offer a two year training program in Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy (GEP)™.  You will learn the essentials of Gestalt therapy and the essentials of equine assisted psychotherapy providing a great deal of experiential work directly with the horses in this program. About 75% of this program will be hands on, both with horses and working with each other in an experiential way. Many equine programs do not include any, or have very little expectation that you will become a “horse” person. We will hold that you become both a “horse” person and a Gestalt therapist. Duey Freeman, MA, LPC and Joan Rieger, MA, LPC   

The Equine Gestalt Coaching Method® (EGCMethod) was developed by Melisa Pearce, a core founder since 1989, of the horse-human healing movement. The experiential nature of the method involves the horse as an active partner with the coach in the client’s exploratory process. The integrative approach of the equine’s interaction combined with positive coaching, somatic awareness, guidance and Gestalt methodology, assist the client in examining their life and choices made with a focus on designing a positive future. Read more about Melisa by clicking here.

Human-Equine Alliances for Learning (HEAL) 
HEAL founder and lead therapist Leigh Shambo, MSW, LPCC has developed the HEAL Model™ of EFP, based on scientifically validated principles from the fields of neuroscience and psychology (human and animal). The HEAL Model™ teaches core skills for navigating and enhancing relationships, while strengthening autonomy and awareness of self. The horses are respected as sensitive and intelligent communicators who may guide the process in unique ways!
The Listening Heart: The Limbic Path Beyond Office Therapy  By MSW, LMHC, Leigh Shambo

Equine-Assisted EMDR  http://eaemdr.com/  Sarah Jenkins, USA

Equine Facilitated Learning and Coaching (EFLC) Certification Program
This program melds aspects of human consciousness, energy awareness, horse wisdom and nature to create safe learning environments that support authentic expression and skills development in this new and rapidly emerging field.

Medicine and Horsemanship
Dr. Beverley Kane. Medicine and Horsemanship trains medical students and other healthcare students and practitioners to develop awareness of the subtleties of self-presentation and communication that are necessary for the provider-patient relationship and all other professional encounters.

The Herd Institute  http://herdinstitute.com/ Veronic Lac, PhD
The HERD Institute offers an inclusive environment, embraces an attitude of abundance, and honors the potential of all its members. We aim for Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning (EFPL) to be recognized as an empirically based treatment and educational modality.

Horse Spirit Connections Inc, Canada  http://horsespiritconnections.com  –  Horse Spirit Connections founded theFEEL (Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning)® Certification Program in 2008. FEEL is a leading-edge modality for developing human potential. Participants learn to create a horse-centered, experiential learning environment that supports personal growth. Throughout the training, prospective FEEL Practitioners gain self-knowledge and acquire skills and experience to develop their own FEEL programs where horses are valued for their roles as teachers and healers. www.FEELAlumni.com  Wendy Golding is an Epona Instructor and has completed an extensive apprenticeship with Linda Kohanov and Kathleen Barry Ingram of the Epona Center in Arizona.

Equine Connection, Canada

Equine Assisted Learning BuildingBlock™ Course has helped people just like yourself all over the world to do what you are called to do, help people to become all they can be with the horses as the teachers.

International Academy of Medicine Horses, Canada 
Dedicated to bringing wisdom and knowledge to the world of Equine Therapy from the perspective of  First Nations and the Medicine Horses.

 LEAD (Leadership through Equine Assisted Discovery) Program (Canada)
LEAD is the first university-accredited equine-assisted leadership program in Canada; participants receive a University of Guelph certificate on successful completion of the program.

Equine Facilitated Wellness-Canada (EFW-CAN)
http://www.equinefacilitatedwellness.org  EFW-Can is a professional community who values building respectful, trusting relationships through the human-equine bond. Our holistic foundation offers a diverse array of opportunities for personal exploration & growth, professional development, and certification training within the arena of Equine Facilitated Wellness.

Can Praxis, Canada  http://canpraxis.com/ While the Canadian Forces uses team building, communications training and leadership development to prepare soldiers for war, Can Praxis uses horses to help soldiers recover from it and regain their family relationships.

Equine-Assisted EMDR  http://eaemdr.com/  Sarah Jenkins, USA 

Equine Psychotherapy Institute, Australia  http://www.equinepsychotherapy.net.au/

LEAP, United Kingdom  http://www.leapequine.com/   LEAP provides safe and healing Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) and Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) for individuals and groups, and high quality, professional training for those who wish to become EFP/L practitioners.

Cartier Farms, Canada.  http://www.cartierfarms.ca/
Cartier Farms offers the original creation of the award-winning Equine Assisted Learning Building Block (™) Certification Program.  It is the only program of its type recognized by the Saskatchewan Horse Federation.

EQUUS COACHING with Koelle Simpson
Life coach and horse whisperer, Koelle Simpson offers a new perspective on communication and trust development.
Koelle TEDX

Kathleen Barry Ingram
Kathleen Barry Ingram and her colleagues can help you to look at possibilities and turn them into probabilities that will enrich and enhance your personal and professional life. “The Sacred Space of Possibility” is a term that Kathleen uses to describe those spaces in between doing, where we are being in the moment and liberated from time, self, and material things.

The most comprehensive list of trainings was done by Sarah Schlote of Equusoma in September 2018. Alphabetical, 18 pages.

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