Overview

Combine your love of helping others with your love of horses through 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.

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.

Minor

The equine assisted therapy minor requires 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

18 credit hours

EA 100 Introduction to Equine Assisted Therapy
Campus | 3 Credits
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Survey of the history, purposes, theory, methods and applications of the uses 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.

Campus 3 Credits
EA 200 Horse and Human
Campus | 2 Credits
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Study of equine behavior, human non-verbal expression and animal-human interaction. Classroom and arena participation. Alternative format. Spring, even years.

Campus 2 Credits
EA 300 Processes in Equine Assisted Therapy
Campus | 3 Credits
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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.

Campus 3 Credits
EA 400 Capstone in Equine Assisted Therapy
Campus | 3 Credits
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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. Spring, odd years.

Campus 3 Credits
EA 490 Internship in Equine Assisted Therapy
Campus | 1 Credit
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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 Spring, every year. May be repeated.

Campus 1 Credit
PS 111 General Psychology
Campus | 3 Credits
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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.

Campus 3 Credits
PS 260 Developmental Psychology
Campus & Online | 3 Credits
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Studies human physical, cognitive, personality, emotional, social and moral development and change from conception to death. Prerequisite: PS 111.

Campus & Online 3 Credits

Electives: Choose one of the following areas of emphasis

Education emphasis

ED 124 Introduction to Inclusive Early Childhood Education
Campus | 3 Credits
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This course provides an up-to-date comprehensive overview of the field of early childhood and early childhood special education. Pre-service teachers will be introduced to the historic foundations of both fields, discuss disabilities including definitions and intervention strategies, apply developmentally appropriate practices, analyze programs and practices, with an emphasis on the young child and forces/factors that influence learning during the early years of life. Fall, every year.

Campus 3 Credits
ED 151 Understanding Mild Disabilities
Campus | 3 Credits
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Provides an overview of mild disabilities, including cognitive impairment, learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, communication disorders, visual impairments, hearing impairment, traumatic brain injury, physical disabilities, autism, and other health impairments. Major topics include definitions, characteristics, causes, prevalence, evaluation, and service delivery. Spring, every year.

Campus 3 Credits
ED 203 Effectively Collaborating with Families and Community Resources
Campus | 3 Credits
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Prepares teacher candidates to explore important and complex roles of teachers, other school and related personnel, primary family members, and their interactions. Accessing school services and personnel will be discussed. Designed to create an awareness of referral agencies and facilities concerned with education, health, and welfare of all students. Discussion will include basic school laws that affect all teachers in terms of contracts, school boards, school policies and procedures, discipline, and special education. Course Fee. Spring, every year.

Campus 3 Credits
ED 213 Principles of Teaching in Inclusive Settings
Campus | 3 Credits
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Provides the information and skills early childhood educators need to become nurturing, self-directed, competent teachers. Includes how to relate well to children and adults, organize an environment and design learning experiences which contribute to the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development of young children. Provides various methodologies, diagnostic tools, and intervention strategies used with young children with and without developmental delays and disabilities. Emphasizes guided observations and evaluation of all young children, including the development of individualized program for children with developmental delays/disabilities. Spring, every year. Prerequisite: ED 124.

Campus 3 Credits
ED/PS 237 Educational Psychology
Campus & Online | 3 Credits
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The study and application of psychological concepts as they apply to teaching and learning from childhood through adolescence. Topics include: learning theory; motivation; physical, emotional and sociological development; individual differences; intelligence; evaluations based on behavioral objectives; and types and uses of standardized tests. Spring, every year. Prerequisite: ED 109 or PS 111.

Campus & Online 3 Credits
ED 257 Special Education Law and Procedures
Campus | 3 Credits
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Presents the history and philosophy of special education, state and federal mandates, and implications for teachers. Includes special education procedures such as collaborating with other professionals, accommodating instruction, writing individualized education plans (IEPs), connecting IEP goals and objectives to state standards, conducting annual case reviews, and conferencing with parents and other professionals. Also discusses current trends and issues in special education. Spring, every year. Prerequisite: ED 151.

Campus 3 Credits
ED 367 Guiding Young Children’s Social and Behavioral Development
Campus | 3 Credits
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Focuses on the influence of emotionality and social relationships on young children’s learning. Teacher candidates will develop skills to help young children self-regulate and manage their own behavior, and understand the impact of their
behavior on the social world. Explores the teacher’s role in interfacing with the mental health community. Requires admission to the Teacher Education Program. Spring semester.

Campus 3 Credits
ED 368 Social Emotional Development and Behavioral Intervention
Campus | 3 Credits
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Focuses on the influence of emotionality and social relationships on student’s learning, Kindergarten – Grade 12. Teacher candidates develop skills to help students self-regulate and manage their own behavior, and understand the impact of their behavior on the social world. Explores the teacher’s role in interfacing with the mental health community. Spring, every year. Requires admission to the Teacher Education Program.

Campus 3 Credits

Organizational Leadership Development emphasis

BU 241 Principles of Management
Campus | 3 Credits
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Emphasizes management functions and management systems. Enhances understanding of the managerial role and its influence on organizational performance. Facilitates understanding of managerial activities involving human, technical and conceptual skills within behavioral, classical and management science approaches. Campus: Fall, every year; WOL: August, March, and May.

Campus 3 Credits
BU 281 Managerial Communications
Campus | 3 Credits
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Studies and applies communication theory and communication as a management tool. Camupus: Spring, every year; WOL: October and January.

Campus 3 Credits
BU 343 Organizational Behavior
Campus | 3 Credits
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Examines individual concepts, individual-organizational interface, the organization itself and organizational processes and characteristics. Campus: Spring, even years; WOL: October. Prerequisite: BU 241.

Campus 3 Credits

Mental Health emphasis

PS 261 Adolescent Psychology
Campus | 3 Credits
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Studies physical, emotional, intellectual and moral development during adolescence; adjustment to change; peer, adult and institutional influences, relationships and pressure.

Campus 3 Credits
PS 285 Techniques of Counseling
Campus & Online | 3 Credits
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Theoretical and practical knowledge needed to make use of basic counseling skills. Emphasis on process in utilizing these skills. Activities include role playing and video presentations.

Campus & Online 3 Credits
PS 320 Learning
Campus | 3 Credits
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Considers the processes of learning and memory based on contemporary research and theory. Focuses on how learning processes work in animals and humans, as well as the practical aspects of the psychology of learning. Prerequisite: PS 111.

Campus 3 Credits
PS 360 Abnormal Psychology
Campus & Online | 3 Credits
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Studies the dynamics of abnormal behavior including etiology, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of emotional disorders, psychoses, substance abuse and childhood disorders. Prerequisite: PS 111.

Campus & Online 3 Credits
PS 365 Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Campus | 3 Credits
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Studies the psychological, biological and social aspects of alcoholism and other drug addictions with an introduction to group, individual and pharmacological treatment methods. Prerequisite: PS 111 or consent of instructor.

Campus 3 Credits
PS/SO 370 Social Psychology
Campus | 3 Credits
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Studies the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people. Topics covered include attitudes, conformity, interpersonal relationships, aggression, and prejudice. Prerequisite: PS 111 or SO 211.

Campus 3 Credits
PS 440 Personality
Campus | 3 Credits
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Extensive coverage of the basic concepts and methods, major theories and results of research in the field of personality. Prerequisite: PS 111.

Campus 3 Credits

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.

Career Paths

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:

  • Equine studies
  • Psychology
  • Human services
  • Education
  • Business administration
  • Human resource management

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.

FAQ

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.