Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL)

A myriad of titles and acronyms exist to describe Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL), related work and corresponding associations.  Don’t let this confuse you.

There are two types of equine facilitated or assisted programs. The main distinction is in the purpose of the program. The two major categories are Therapy and Education.

EFL, Equine Facilitated Learning, is experiential-based learning in which trained professionals partner with horses to create opportunities for people to learn about themselves.

EFL is the term we use for the work we do here at Equinection. We incorporate experiential education using creative arts techniques, meditation, and journaling to anchor the lesson learned with the horses.

EFT, Equine Facilitated Therapy, is based in the science of medicine and psychology. It is a diagnostic-based program that incorporates horses in activities with people to address their particular diagnosis. There are specific behavioral outcomes and standards in this line of work.

There is a national certification-testing program, CEIP, for both Education and Therapy programs. This is a step toward insisting on competency training and building professional standards of excellence, but is not required to practice.

How Do I Choose an EFL or EFT Program?

CAUTION: Having a love for horses alone does not qualify someone to become a professional EFL facilitator. EFL (Equine Facilitated Learning) or EFT (Equine Facilitated Therapy) work, nor does it predict skill in EFL or EFT. Although EFL and EFT involve partnering with horses, the work is for people; to help and serve them.

Certification is not always a mark of training; it can be a marketing tool. Professionals are able to gain certification to teach EFL in a weekend course, so look for appropriate training.

In general, the process for selecting an EFL or EFT program and professional is similar to the process for selecting any trusted teacher or counselor. The following are some things to consider when selecting an EFL or EFT program:

Teacher/Counselor

  • Training and education
    • What program or method is used? Are you in agreement with this philosophy? Will this method give you the results you are seeking?
    • What is the earned level of certification or training?
  • How long has the professional been practicing?
  • How many years of training does the professional have?
    • Does the professional engage in on-going training and education?
  • Is this the professional’s full-time profession?
  • Does he/she own or lease the facility?

Facility

  • Are the stables private or public?
  • Is the program held in a private space?
  • Are the horses well cared for?
  • What other jobs do the horses have?
  • How many people take care of the horses, what is their training?
  • Do you feel safe working with the horses? (Size of arena, condition of the fences; is there support staff?)

Testimonials

  • Read the testimonials for content to determine if the work will address your needs.