Founded in July 1999, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization developed to address the need for resources, education, and professionalism in the field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. The organization is now represented around the world in 38 countries.
The EAGALA method (modality) offers Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) as valid and effective approaches where clients are active in the experience. The facilitating method benefits those in the Equine Fields by opening up greater possibilities for doing what they love, namely working with horses. The method also benefits those in the clinical and human development fields by providing a powerful, effective, interesting, and fun therapeutic alternative. Most of all, the method benefits the clients and participants, because, as those of us working in the field see all the time, it works!!!! The growth and learning of all involved is intense and rewarding.
For more information about this association go to their website at www.eagala.org
PATH Intl. was founded in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) to promote safe and effective therapeutic horseback riding throughout the United States and Canada. Today, PATH Intl. has nearly 800 member centers and over 6,300 individual members in countries all over the world, who help and support more than 42,000 men, women and children with special needs each year through a variety of equine-assisted activity and therapy programs.
Though PATH Intl. began with a focus on horseback riding as a form of physical and mental therapy, the organization and its dedicated members have since developed a multitude of different equine-related activities for therapeutic purposes, collectively known as equine-assisted activities and therapies (or EAAT). Besides horseback riding, EAAT also includes therapeutic carriage driving; interactive vaulting, which is similar to gymnastics on horseback; equine-facilitated learning and mental health, which use the horse as a partner in cognitive and behavioral therapy, usually with the participation of a licensed therapist; ground work and stable management; and PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes, which uses a variety of EAAT disciplines specifically to help war veterans and military personnel. In addition, many of PATH Intl.’s 25 volunteer-driven committees are working on identifying and refining even more disciplines and activities that might be put to use in the world of EAAT.
In the early 1990s, Greg Kersten created the term "Equine Assisted Psychotherapy" to describe the specific work he was doing with horses and at-risk youth who were incarcerated or in treatment. At the time, no one had ever used the phrase "equine-assisted" to describe the powerful healing and informative powers of horses on the lives of humans. Kersten published the first Equine Assisted Psychotherapy training manual in 1995 through his corporation, Equine Services, Inc., and began to certify professionals in the practice of EAP, using core philosophies and specific exercises he had found to be particularly effective in his work. Since that time, other organizations and agencies have embraced the term "EAP," but have altered the definition to suit their own programming, philosophies, and exercises.
Equine-assisted work honors the natural behavior of horses and herds. Horses are skilled at keeping themselves safe and adept at survival; their natural behaviors are optimal for mental and physical health. In many respects, humans have lost the instinct to keep themselves safe and healthy. We entrust horses to show us the way back to health. Work and observation in the horse world lends itself to extremely powerful metaphors into our own patterns, strengths, and the nonverbal messages we send out. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy implements the power of equine-assisted philosophies and exercises to introduce therapy clients to themselves in a modality that has been found to be more efficient and less threatening than traditional talk therapy. Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) is a field of practice based on the successes of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. We have learned that everyone can benefit from equine-assisted work - not just therapy clients. EAL uses equine-assisted philosophies and exercises in a variety of "arenas" from corporate retreats, to church groups, personal coaching, parenting and family dynamics and more!
Equine Assisted Therapy is available in many methods but all have the same goal - To facilitate opportunities for an improved quality of life. The following videos are just a sample of methods and facilities available.