Equine Assisted Therapy

Combine your love of helping others with your love of horses with a minor in equine assisted therapy. Select an emphasis in education/special needs, organizational and leadership development, or mental health. Students work directly with horses in the arena and outdoor environments, but all activities are on the ground (no riding or mounted activities).

What is Equine Assisted Therapy?

Equine Assisted Therapy is the use of horses and other equines to promote growth, learning and psychological well-being for people. It is increasingly used to help people with a wide range of needs. Some of those who benefit from equine-facilitated therapies are:

  • at-risk youth
  • children who are not achieving their academic potential
  • children with behavioral problems
  • children with special learning needs
  • children with autism
  • adults and children who have experienced family violence
  • people in recovery from substance abuse or addiction
  • people with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • returning veterans

Equine-based learning activities are also widely used for organizational leadership training and teaching teamwork skills. Businesses, not-for-profit organizations and congregations seek equine-based services to help them become more productive.

The relationship between people and horses is the basis for all equine-facilitated therapy. Participants engage in structured activities under the guidance of the therapist or leader. The unique interaction of the individual with the horse leads to increased confidence, self-esteem and understanding of themselves and others.

Equine Assisted Therapy Minor (21 credit hours)

Each student selects an emphasis in education/special needs, organizational and leadership development, or mental health. Students taking the minor should be prepared to work directly with horses in the arena and outdoor environments.  All equine activities are on the ground (no mounted activities).

Required Courses

Survey of the history, purposes, theory, methods, and applications of the use of equines to enhance human social and psychological well-being. Classroom and arena participation, with shadowing and interview activities with practitioners in the field. Campus only. Fall odd years.

This course studies the intervention process as it is applied in programs that offer equine facilitated therapies. Students develop skill in each step of this process. The course emphasizes the theoretical basis for selection of interventions, communication and observation skills, group dynamics, and experiential learning. Classroom and arena participation. Campus only. Fall even years.

Forty documented hours in placement in an approved setting that provides equine assisted mental health, growth and learning, or organizational development services, under the supervision of an experienced practitioner. Campus only. Fall and Winter semesters. May be taken repeatedly.

Study of equine behavior, human non-verbal expression and animal-human interaction. Classroom and arena participation. Alternative Format. Winter even years.

The capstone course in the Equine Assisted Therapy minor integrates knowledge gained in previous courses and advances student skill in selecting, implementing, and evaluating equine-based processes. Course activities are relevant to the student's chosen area of emphasis (mental health, organizational/leadership, or education). Classroom and arena participation. Campus only. Winter odd years.

An overview of contemporary psychology introducing students to: human development, cognition and language, learning, memory, sensation, perception, motivation, emotion, biological basis of behavior, social psychology, personality, psychopathology and psychotherapy. The focus of the course is on both the scientific method of acquiring psychological data, as well as the theories which interpret that data and help guide further research in the field. For majors and non-majors, this course also serves as the prerequisite for most psychology classes. Fulfills general studies requirement.

Studies human physical, cognitive, personality, emotional, social and moral development and change from conception to death. Prerequisite: PS111.

Electives

Choose one of the following areas of emphasis.

Choose an approved business elective. Consult with your academic adviser for further details.

Choose an approved education elective. Consult with your academic adviser for further details.

Choose an approved psychology elective. Consult with your academic adviser for further details.

Suggested Sequence of Courses (two-year sequence)

Fall Semester

  • PS 111 General Psychology
  • EA 100 Introduction to Equine Assisted Therapy 

Winter Semester

  • PS 260   Developmental Psychology (even year)
  • EF 200 Horse and Human

Fall Semester

  • EF/PS/HS 300 Internship in Equine Assisted Therapy
  • EF/PS/HS 300  Processes in Equine Assisted Therapy

Winter Semester

  • EF 400EA Capstone Course in Equine Assisted Therapy

Elective course may be taken in any semester.

Information about Course Requirements
We do our best to keep this information updated, but you should always double-check to ensure you are meeting graduation requirements. For the most current course requirements please review the latest undergraduate college catalog.  Always consult your academic advisor when registering for courses or when you have questions about course requirements.

Equine-based approaches are emerging as valuable components of counseling, education, and leadership development programs.

Your knowledge gained in equine assisted therapy will add a new dimension to your career, particularly if you plan to become a counselor, educator, or business leader. The minor will complement a major in:

 

The study of equine assisted therapy will benefit students in any discipline. 

The skills learned in the program – for planning, guiding, and evaluating interventions – will enhance employment opportunities in any setting. (Where counseling or mental health services are given, a helping professional with a four-year degree can expect to work under the supervision of a more advanced helping professional.)

You will develop:

  • leadership skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • perseverance
  • resourcefulness
  • verbal and non-verbal interpersonal communication skills
  • ways to motivate others

All of these qualities are highly valued by employers in any field. Students who master these skills will have an advantage in any job setting. They will be leaders who can bring about positive change.

What is equine therapy? 

The relationship between people and horses is the basis for all equine-facilitated therapy. Participants engage in structured activities under the guidance of the therapist or leader. The unique interaction of the individual with the horse leads to increased confidence, self-esteem and understanding of themselves and others.

Do I have to have experience riding horses? 

Horse riding skills are not required for students in this minor. All activities with horses in this minor are on the ground (no riding or mounted activities).

Do I have to have previous experience working with or caring for horses? 

While previous experience with horse training and horse care is helpful in your choice to study equine assisted therapy, you can begin with any level of knowledge about horses.

Why isn’t this minor in the Department of Equine Studies? 

The equine assisted therapy minor is a part of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Courses are psychology focused. While students in the equine assisted therapy minor do study equine behavior and animal-human interaction, they do not take any courses in the Department of Equine Studies.