Abstracts for Presentations

Abstracts will be added as they are received.


Body Language as an Indicator of Welfare

This lecture will focus on honing your equine body language perception skills, specifically looking at what body language might indicate stress or discomfort in horses. We then look at a traffic light model of equine stress behaviours to help you identify what state your equine is in, to enable you to recognise stress behaviours before they escalate. This supports a more stress free environment for your horse as you’re able to pick up on more subtle body language cues which indicate stress. This can then be used in part of your management and training as well as during client sessions to monitor your horses stress levels in order to improve welfare.

About Jenny Eichner BSc (hons), Ad Prof Dip PC, Ad Dip EFHD, MSAFE (Accred), MBACP

Professional Roles

-Equine Centred: Founder – Promoting an equine centred approach to management and training

-Integrated Psychotherapeutic Solutions: Counsellor and Equine Therapist

-IFEAL Qualifications Ltd: Programme Director


-Level 6 Advanced Professional Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling – Ad Prof Dip PC

-IFEAL Advanced Diploma in Equine Facilitated Human Development – Ad Dip EFHD

-Diploma in Applied Equine Behaviour to Instructorship Level in Ground Skills

-BSc (hons) Psychology at Sussex University


Jenny has worked in the field of Equine Therapy for over 7 years and is currently working as Programme Director for IFEAL Qualifications as well as running her own businesses. When it comes to equine welfare, Jenny is passionate about teaching and promoting welfare standards in all aspects of equine management and training. She strives to improve the welfare and wellbeing of equines through encouraging evidence based approaches; using science to aid in understand equines and how to improve management and training of them based on this information using a Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive approach. Jenny is currently studying the Equine Behaviour Qualification with the NAC to become an Equine Behaviourist.



How did ‘Athena’ start?

Jennifer Geach and Ann Newman are delighted to be joining us to speak at the 2018 EAFPN Conference and to be given the opportunity to talk us through their journey so far and how they are looking forward to offering an exciting new phase.

Disillusioned with the way they had experienced their horses being kept at more traditional livery yards, Jennifer Geach and her husband Brent started to look at alternative solutions that would better suit the lifestyle that they yearned for – not just for their horses but themselves and young son.  Their quest led them to Paddock Wood in Kent, finding a farmhouse and 17 acres of land.  This move fulfilled their dream to live a more peaceful and tranquil lifestyle and to enjoy more quality time as a family surrounded by their animals.

Their land already benefitted from established hedgerow, mature trees, natural water sources, wild flowers and plants.  All of this already provided a wealth of natural benefits for the animals as well as the wildlife.  More than anything else Jennifer wanted to look at how they might live in harmony with the natural environment through a more natural and sympathetic system of land management.

Jennifer started to learn about the concept of providing horses with an environment that better supports optimum physical and mental health. Inspired by, amongst others, Jamie Jackson’s book “Paddock Paradise: A Guide to Natural Horse Boarding”, Brent and Jennifer embarked on a journey which led to what is today ‘Athena’ – a hybrid ‘equicentral/track system of keeping horses.

It is no surprise that this journey has not only brought together the current Athena equine herd, but, along with them, a group of like-minded humans who very much support the mental and physical health and wellbeing of their horses.

Ann Newman, who has kept horses for getting on for 50 years has supported Jennifer and Brent by blending ‘old school’ ways and experience with the natural journey that Jennifer has embarked upon.  Ann and Jennifer both currently commute into their ‘day jobs’ in London, in fact this is how they first met by sitting next to each other on the 07.13!.   Both value the company of the herd after a stressful day.

Today, the Athena herd is now 18 strong and covers a wide range of ages, breeds, types and of course personalities.  Since ‘Athena’ has become more established Jennifer and Ann have started to explore ways in which this tranquil setting and amazing herd of horses can best be used to support others.

Vision: This new chapter for ‘Athena’ is an exciting one.  Jennifer is currently training to become an EFL practitioner and our vision is to make Athena into a centre of excellence available to independent practitioners not necessarily just with the horses but the other animals that call Athena home.

This presentation will see Jennifer and Ann take us through the Athena journey and experience, including the trials and tribulations, using real life case studies.  We hope you will find their experiences and vision both informative and inspiring.



This lecture is helpful for youthworkers, social workers and teachers interested in assisting youth with low executive functioning by experiential learning with horses in order to achieve huge improvement in behavior, cognition and increasing the learning capacity, based on the defenition of experiential learning: “EL with help from a horse is to create a methodological learining situation, which provides concrete and  intense experiences, which, after reflection leads to changes in cognition and behavior in many facets of life. “

This programme steeps importance in foundations of methodological working (intake-goalsetting in a treatment plan-intervention-evaluation and -eventually- adjusting goals) because the intervention is:

  • focused on goals and needs led assessment
  • systematic: it goes by planned steps, given by goals
  • by means of a process: steps are related to each other, considering the effect of each step to the other
  • consious: the social worker/teacher knows what he’s doing (planning) and why (goals)

There are three ways to stengthen executive functions: by changing environment, by learning/teaching skills and by the use of rewards. Horses can play a important role in strenghtening, as well as on account of the biological en physical effects (release of oxytocin and dopamine, lowering cortisol, increased bloodflow in the brain) as well as on the social-cognitive effects (self-efficacy, performance accomplishment, personal agency, role theory and the theory of the transitional object) of the horse.

Both effects result in improving the working memory, cognition and behaviour, illustrated in this lecture by case studies.



What do we already know about facilitating experiential leadership development? Does it stack up when you have a horse in the mix?

I am an Occupational Psychologist, leadership developer, facilitator, coach and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) practitioner with over 20 years’ experience. Working with horses to give leaders feedback on their presence and impact is one of the most effective methods I’ve ever used. It can get to the heart of someone’s leadership issues within 20mins. EAL is a powerful method, but it’s not new. Some practitioners may believe that they are pioneering a novel approach, but EAL is still experiential learning, which has been around for a long time. Could all practitioners draw on what we know is good practice when it comes to developing leaders, facilitating groups and experiential learning? Or is EAL unique?

This research draws on an innovative combination of in depth interviews and video with 7 experienced EAL practitioners to get under the skin of what it’s like to work as they do. The aim is to develop best practice by looking at how these established and respected developers think about facilitation and experiential learning, what underpins their practice; as well as what they do when they are working with leaders and horses. I have then compared that to what we know about facilitation of experiential learning with leaders.

One of the key findings revolves around the ability of these practitioners to draw on their experience and to work with a quality of presence and attention that is both embodied and emergent. The focus they put on establishing and maintaining both physical and psychological safety is another central theme. Whilst each of them has different takes on how adults learn or what aspects of leadership they are developing, there are some common themes and practices. Much of what they do is underpinned by years of experience of developing leaders and has solid foundations in established good practice. However, their practice doesn’t fit neatly into any one approach to facilitation. The major difference? The use of the horse of course.

The aspiration is that this research will encourage a conversation; to support anyone working with horses and leaders to reflect on what they do and why they do it. And hopefully to get curious about what might support their own development as practitioners and further increase the credibility of this potent approach to developing leaders.



Jessie Sams is currently an animal behaviour consultant specialising in both horses and dogs.  She works within a general animal behaviour consultancy firm, based in Kent.

These case studies reflect on examples of training and rehabilitation of traumatised horses, within an emotion-focused framework, and on an animal’s suitability for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning (EAP/L).

A difficulty when comparing trauma symptomatology in humans with that in other species is avoiding direct parallels. It is therefore important that species-specific comparisons are not ‘lost in translation’.  Research with other species, such as McMillan’s work with dogs sold as puppies via pet shops or commercial breeding establishments, suggest that it is possible to use parallels in species-appropriate husbandry, training and socialisation. An awareness of any animal’s emotional and physical needs is vital, when applying emotion-focused theory, with positive reinforcement.

Pebbles is a twenty-nine year old Welsh type bay mare, rescued with her six year old daughter. Both had body-condition scores of one, multiple scars and for Pebbles a tracheal scar believed to be from a blunt instrument.  Pebbles is completely blind in her right eye with progressive night-blindness in her left (retinal degeneration).

Treatment included being kept with the daughter, Daisy, to prevent rupture of social bonds and additional trauma.  A period of a few weeks followed, with minimal human interactions, at the same times of day in order to offer predictability.  An adaptation of Suzanne Clothier’s treat-retreat method was used to develop trust and promote a sense of choice and agency.  All training was carried out completely unrestrained. For the farrier she was initially sedated, but soon food from a bucket was used as a distraction.

Pebbles has a Shetland pony companion called Morgan, who has a bell to enable her to follow him.  Resources such as hay and water are identifiable through the use of woodchip as a change in substrate, as is the fence boundary.  Management and training continue to focus on recognition of, and response to, signs of hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal.  All non-urgent interactions are dependent on Pebbles’ engagement.

Coco is a seven year old Gypsy cob who has recently been gelded.  He is ridden by a sixteen year old girl and regularly attends affiliated dressage competitions. As a stallion he spent much of his time stabled with visual but not tactile contact with other horses.  He received infrequent turn-out (less that once a month), which was always individual. He had been subjected to aversive training and beaten on more than one occasion for refusal to load.  He had been forcibly restrained for wormers and medication, resulting in him rearing and kicking out.  He had intermittent loading problems and a severe phobia of syringes, leading to trembling, withdrawal and attempts to kick or crush a person in panic.

He has been moved to a different yard, with daily turn-out with other horses.  Treatment involved gradual habituation to the syringe, freedom to move away, a constant supply of forage in two locations, well away from the syringe and other horses nearby.  The concept of a “safe place” was used when he retreated.  The main focus was on levels of hyper-arousal and acknowledgement of calming signals.  Coco now readily accepts the syringe and his overall behaviour when handled is calmer.

Placing interactions with horses within a trauma-informed framework is useful when building relationships, based on interpreting the horse’s emotions and addressing communication signals in a respectful manner that accounts for the animal’s point of view.



Researching EAAT: How can we help you?

Clare has a background in Psychology & Animal Behavior, and works for the University of Maine System teaching, researching and mentoring students in counseling, animal behavior, eco-therapies, EFP & the human- equine bond. Her new courses and CAS in Animal Assisted Activities and Therapies and Anthrozoology will be offered through USM from Fall 2018. Clare’s a former board member for EFMHA, and an HHRF scientific advisor. Clare lives with her family and animals on a 40 acre diversified farm, where she strongly supports organic farming and gardening, and grass-fed humane livestock production. Clare has been around equines for more than 4 decades and sees the immense value in being truly and respectfully present with equines, which she shares with her students.
Abstract 300-500 words

This presentation aims to give an overview of the author’s research, her work with students, and the need for collaboration with Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) practitioners in the research process. The presentation will also share some of potential benefits of research for EAAT practitioners as well as some of the many practicalities and pitfalls of research in EAAT.
Multiple research studies into various aspects of EAAT have been completed in the past decade, and yet few provide significant support for the benefits of EAAT. More disconcertingly many fail to embrace or even comprehend the unique qualities inherent in respectful human-equine interaction for the health and well-being of humans and the equines who provide them with growth and healing.
The principal focus of the presentation is to encourage EAAT practitioners to partner with University Researchers, so research can be carried out that is genuinely beneficial to those working in the field.
This presentation will start with a brief overview of the author’s and her students’ research in EAAT and Human- Equine Interaction, from a study of Human-Equine Interaction in young women through the lens of Attachment Theory, a current pilot study evaluating the role of equines in the lives of returning military veterans with PTSD, to numerous systematic reviews of various aspects and applications of EAAT.
Finally, there are many aspects of EAAT, particularly the psychosocial aspects, which are difficult to research; the presenter will address some of these to show not only the potential scope of research, but also its limitations.
This will be an interactive presentation, with the presenter asking participants what areas of research they would find helpful in supporting their practice, and what research they would be comfortable participating in with their centers. Practitioners will also be asked if they would be interested in mentoring or providing internship opportunities for students looking to become EAAT practitioners.
Those attending this presentation will gain insight into the role of the research and how collaboration between EAAT students and researchers, and EAAT practitioners can benefit the practice of EAAT.



Abstract: ‘Unconscious Incompetence’ – We don’t know what we don’t know….

How Supervision can help in the field of Equine Assisted Interventions

When considering the concept of ‘Unconscious Incompetence’ we might think that the solution to this is simply good quality core training, followed by ongoing CPD. Of course these are both extremely important but so, in my view, is regular monthly or six weekly Supervision. Within the fields of Equine Assisted (or Facilitated) Learning, Therapy, Psychotherapy and Education, supervision will probably be regarded in different ways. For registered or accredited counsellors, psychotherapists, play therapists and mental health practitioners, it will usually be a regular part of their monthly routine which they look forward to, value and hopefully enjoy. These practitioners may come from a wide range of backgrounds in terms of their chosen modalities and frameworks, and this will be reflected in the supervision approaches they choose. For other health and social care professionals i.e. psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, working under HCPC registration and governance, supervision may be viewed as a more formal or standardised process, with forms to be completed, targets and goals discussed and agreed, and CPD and other personal growth markers achieved within specific time frames. For teachers, or equine specialists coming from coaching or activity backgrounds, the concept of supervision may be less familiar, although line management supervision may be well understood.
Because the fast growing world of Equine and Animal Assisted Interventions brings together so many specialists from across such a wide range of professions, we currently have a situation that is neither particularly unified nor entirely at one with itself, which I believe is unhelpful and also a missed opportunity. Even the word ‘supervision’ may illicit rather different responses from different practitioners. In this talk I would like to explore what supervision has to offer us all, the concept and the practicalities, but especially so we may consider how it can help raise standards in order to promote and improve equine welfare. The presentation will also examine the role of supervision in safeguarding client wellbeing, and offering reliable support to practitioners and organisations involved in delivering EAI programmes across the country.

Sarah Urwin, MBACP (Accred) Counsellor and Psychotherapist, is an experienced therapist, supervisor and trainer in the field of Equine and Animal Assisted Interventions. She is passionate about the work and has been involved with these interventions as a practitioner since 2002. She trained with EAGALA in 2004/5, and The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) in 2007, completing their training on Companion Animal Interventions in Therapeutic Practice. She subsequently tutored on this, and other AAI courses, was one of the co-authors of the 2013 SCAS Code of Practice and has helped to set up and support a range of animal and equine assisted programmes across the country. She is committed to raising standards of practice for the welfare and wellbeing of all involved, particularly the horses and other animals, and believes that one way of ensuring this is through effective supervision. She sees clients and supervisees, and runs regular individual or small group training workshops in Equine, Canine and Animal Assisted Interventions from her smallholding in Devon. Sarah also works alongside the charity Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship (CEO Dr. Hannah Burgon) as chair of trustees.

Josie Arscott is assisting with this presentation. Josie has completed Foundation Training in Core Process Psychotherapy with the Karuna Institute, and has an Advanced Diploma in Humanistic Counselling. She works with clients at Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship CIO. She is also Communications and Marketing Officer for Sirona. Horses have been a huge part of Josie’s life growing up and she has always recognised the power of the relationship that can develop between people and these wonderfully perceptive animals.



EFT: Exploring the Equine Assistant’s Perspective

Scant literature exists to evaluate the nonhuman experience of equine facilitated therapy (EFT).  The number of EFT practitioners is increasing and the field is unregulated.  In an original meta-analysis Nimer and Lundahl (2007) found that practices must be better evaluated.

Greater attention is now given to nonhuman animals as social agents, interacting with humans in psychologically meaningful ways, including therapeutic assistant, in what Fine (2010) describes as “a goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process.” 

Fine argues that most equine programmes are situated within a social cognitive paradigm, emphasising the formation of a working relationship between nonhuman and human which provides feedback on the consequences of social behaviour and emphasises self-efficacy and personal agency on the part of the human.

Increasing interest in an ethological view of human-animal relations includes studies in cognitive ethology that situate nonhuman animals as mindful, conscious and emotional participants in their experiences with humans.  A greater consideration of how human actions and attitudes impact on nonhuman animals’ welfare and experience is emerging, and the British Psychological Society’s Guidelines for Psychologists Working with Animals (2012), Section 10, sets out ethical considerations to be applied to ‘The Use of Animals for Therapeutic Purposes’.  The guidelines make reference to procedures and practices causing pain, suffering or distress, including psychological stress and significant discomfort, and they include application of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which includes the duty to protect animals from pain and suffering, and to meet welfare needs.

Ethological studies situate the horse as a prey species whose basic need is safety and in which the primary response to sympathetic nervous system arousal is flight, seeking to escape from fear-eliciting or threatening experiences.  Fidget, freeze and fight are other behavioural responses which may be exhibited depending on context, learning history and individual differences.  Survival depends on complex visual, auditory, chemical and tactile communication within a settled social group in which members avoid aggression and engage in affiliative behaviours.  Interspecies beliefs and latterly a strong scientific body of animal behaviour and welfare evidence support the view that horses experience affective emotional states including fear, anxiety, rage, sadness, play and relaxation.

Various equine ethology researchers report detailed descriptions of emotional states in horses; consequently it is possible to apply these criteria in order to begin to understand the quality of the equine experience.  Most recently, Draaisma (2017) has posited the idea of ‘calming signals’ presented by horses in contexts of communication, anxiety or frustration, and Rees (2017) has examined the adaptive function of evolved behaviour in domestic conditions, how this affects social relations in horses and how humans make sense of these expressions.

Therefore an exploration of the understanding and application of psychology and ethology in relation to the equine assistant will be useful in establishing the emotional and welfare states of horses involved in therapeutic practices in order to evaluate and improve EFT practice and procedures.

Debbie is a Clinical Animal Behaviourist; one of only four equine specialists registered with the UK Animal Behaviour & Training Council, and is a Certified Horse Behaviourist with the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants. She works with referring vets on complex behaviour problems in horses in all equestrian disciplines, and she provides expert witness services to UK courts. Debbie also writes and presents webinars, seminars and workshops about all aspects of behaviour and consulting.

Debbie is soon to complete a four year Psychotherapy Diploma in Transactional Analysis and she has adapted the TA model of communication for use with behaviour clients. As part of her future plans she intends to offer clinical supervision to behaviour consultants, and wilderness therapy to psychotherapy clients.

Debbie travels internationally to consult with clients and to research equine behaviour and equestrian pursuits situated in Turkey and the Middle East, and she takes part annually in the challenging 6 day Wadi Rum desert trail ride in southern Jordan.

MSc (Distinction) Applied Animal Behaviour & Welfare
BSc (First class honours) Psychology
Natural Animal Centre Equine Behaviour Qualification

Full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors
Certified member of the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants

Graduate member of the British Psychological Society
British Veterinary Behaviour Association
Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
International Society for Equitation Science
Equine Behaviour & Training Association
UK Centre for Animal Law (A-Law)
UK Register of Expert Witnesses




How fantastic that the theme of this conference is ‘The Voice of the Horse’.   Never has there been a time when more people are waking up to the fact that horses are sentient, and that they speak their own language.  If we choose to work with equines we should strive to hear and understand what they are saying.  The new wave of equestrians should not just be whispering to horses, they should be listening to them.

Concordia is re-launching this year as a hub for like-minded equestrians, and the umbrella organisation for professionals who share our ethos.  At our core is the welfare of horses worldwide, with science and compassion leading education that will put the horses first and change outdated perceptions.

Equines are the victims of many forms of abuse, some of which are hidden in plain sight. In this presentation, we will consider how the population at large have come to accept practices in horse riding and training that if done to any other animal they would find abhorrent.  We will look at how the practitioners of EFL can help us change perceptions and educate a general public who have a major influence on the equine industries.

Milly Shand is the founder of The Concordia Connection.  Up until this year, she was a registered BHS coach and former British Dressage Trainer, list 4 judge and group 2 rider.  Milly was a working pupil with Ferdi Eilberg and she has trained riders from novice to BD advanced medium and International Horse Trials.  A successful competitive career includes three-day eventing to two-star level, longlisted for GB junior team, show-jumping to B&C level and dressage to Grand Prix level – riding at the national championships for many years including Prix St George and Intermediare I and II.

The Concordia Principles

  1. Our vision is of a world where all horses are cared for and trained with kindness and understanding. Horses are sentient beings, capable of being aware of sensations and emotions, of feeling pain and suffering, and of experiencing a state of well being. Therefore, we adopt the “Five Freedoms” principles that were developed for farm animals and which are: Freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behaviour; and freedom from fear and distress.
  2. With these principles in mind, we acknowledge that the handling, training and riding of horses must be in such a way that fear and distress are being reduced to an absolute minimum. We believe that horses should have freedom of movement and expression when worked under saddle or from the ground – eliminating the use of restrictive equipment and force. We believe in listening to the horses and giving them time to find their own balance and self carriage.
  3. Our commitment is to promote thoughtful training practices through sharing education and knowledge that are based on science, research and evidence based practice – creating successful human-horse relationships in which equine welfare is paramount.



Harriet Laurie is the founder and Project Development Officer of TheHorseCourse, a charity registered in the UK, aiming to reduce social exclusion through innovative horsemanship-based interventions for those who both lack emotional and thinking skills AND are disengaged or not progressing in talk-based provision. TheHorseCourse began in 2010 as an offending behaviour project in UK prisons and has quickly become recognised as effective and cost-effective in working with extremely hard to reach and disengaged individuals. The charity now has 11 Approved Facilitators in the UK and is developing a number of centres outside prisons. TheHorseCourse works in partnership with  referring organisations including Government funded agencies such as Schools, Social Services, Children’s Services, NHS, Prison Service, Youth Offending Teams; as well as 3rd sector specialist support service providers in the areas of domestic violence, drug & alcohol, military service personnel. Most of the work is funded by charitable grants, but THC is beginning to command public funding as well. Harriet has built the organisation with a high level of commitment to robust testing and evidence from the start. She co-wrote http://www.thehorsecourse.org/docs/TheHorseCourse_Evidence_Review_2015_web.pdf with help from a number of academics. This document was published by New Philanthropy capital and CLINKS (both well-respected 3rd sector organisations with particular focus on evidence), and underwent peer review by CSAAP (The Correctional Services Accreditation & Advisory Panel – a panel of eminent academics in the fields of Criminology and Psychology, employed by The Ministry of Justice). An observational study of TheHorseCourse undertaken by Bournemouth and Southampton Universities has resulted in a peer reviewed paper which is to appear shortly in Society & Animals Journal. A number of other studies and reports, both internal and external, can be read at http://www.thehorsecourse.org/evidence  Harriet comes to evaluation and evidence from a practitioner perspective – alive to the practical difficulties, costs and benefits surrounding the development of an evidence base. “TheHorseCourse exemplifies the right attitude and approach towards collecting and analysing data in order to test and demonstrate impact, as well as develop practice responsively.” James Noble, New Philanthropy Capital

Harriet is now in a Doctorate programme within Applied Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University.


Lynda Watson is a passionate human being. Life couldn’t be fuller and she is grateful for every minute of it. Along with her Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) business, HorseTouch (of which she is a certified FEEL facilitator), she founded the community organization, Dreamation that bring the values and skills learned from the horses to diverse audiences and communities.  Lynda enjoys sharing the horse’s wisdom and then enhancing those lessons during equine workshops.  At the time of this conference Lynda is working for the Government of Canada for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls. A role she performs with great honour and respect.  Lynda has enjoyed many fabulous adventures on her journey through life so far.  These include; mother, equestrian coach with her own farm for 20 years, working in the humanitarian field in roles such as youth program coordinator, project manager and case management, avid traveller (although she calls Canada home) and lifelong learner in the field of human potential.  She also works as a professional facilitator with positions such as senior facilitator with the Canadian Red Cross and partner facilitator with several EFL farms and professionals.  Lynda’s life mission is to make positive and peaceful change in the world while inspiring & supporting others to do the same. ‘Equine Leadership’ is an exciting adventure she adds to her list. 
Workshop Abstract
Equine Leadership : A model of peaceful and  positive living for all. 
Creating change for the horse through collective storytelling.   
Telling a story has been part of human society since, well, the beginning of human society. Stories relay information, offer knowledge and wisdom as well as generate compassion. A simple story can change someone’s life. A set of collective stories affect a wider audience thus perhaps changing a global perspective.
Equine Leadership offers collective stories that give the horse a voice it didn’t have for many years. Actually, it had the voice…humans just weren’t listening. We are starting to slow down now, step into our hearts and hear their voice; their clear messages for making our world a better place.
Stories have many different ways to make change. They are: “a direct route to our emotions, and therefore important to decision-making…engender empathy across difference…enable the possible to feel probable in ways our rational minds can’t comprehend. When it comes to changing the values, mindsets, rules, and goals of a system, story is foundational.”   (Stanford Social Innovation Review)
Horses offer a model, both individually and collectively, of ways to create peaceful and positive living.  When we understand the horses through the wisdom and knowledge they reflect to us and then relate that in story form to a wider audience we are taking a step in making their world a better place as well.
Lynda Watson, founder of Equine Leadership, will discuss how storytelling can create shifts in perspectives that lead to action, historically and in our modern day society. She will share the vision and journey of Equine Leadership and in a group exercise explore the future for both horses and humans and how collective story telling can play a part in creating that future.  
Without them where would we be now?                        With them what will the future look like?

Horse Play & Canine Capers:
Combining Animal Welfare and Play therapy for emotional and physical health

Horse Play & Canine Capers: Combining Animal Welfare & Play Therapy for Emotional and Physical Health across the Life Span.

This interactive presentation will give some insight into Animal Assisted Play Therapy.

Dimensions of AAPT ™

First, it adds the elements of playfulness, humour, and lightness to the therapeutic process. This puts clients of all ages at ease, and it can make the process enriching for the animals, too.

Second, it focuses heavily on relationships–and how the relationship between therapist and animal must be developed in positive, mutually respectful ways in which the animals have a voice and choice whenever possible. This relationship provides a model for clients so that they can strengthen their own relationships, not only with therapy animals and their own companion animals, but within the human relationships in their families and communities.

Third, the principles that guide AAPT are inclusive of different species of animals. Very often, the field of human-animal interventions seems segmented into those who work with horses and those who work with dogs and other animals. The principles and practices of AAPT can be readily applied to dogs, horses, cats, and others.

Fourth, AAPT provides a different model of risk management that allows animals greater freedom to make choices throughout the process without being pushed into interaction with clients. It is not uncommon in AAPT for the animals to suggest alternative activities which, coupled with therapist facilitation and processing skills, can enhance therapeutic outcomes! This freedom benefits animals as well as clients

Fifth, AAPT includes an ever-present attentiveness to the animals and their well-being. This takes considerable awareness and skill in understanding animal body language, interactions among animals, interactions between clients and animals, and knowing one’s animals extremely well. The importance of animal welfare is paramount as is the idea that this emphasis is also good for the therapeutic process.

Sixth, AAPT values the natural environments of animals, and the process encourages the expression of natural behaviours by them. This enhances the mutuality of relationships developed and the impact of the interventions, as well as the parallels that can be drawn between the animals’ lives and behaviours and those of our clients.

Seventh, AAPT can be applied across the lifespan. Play is not just for kids! Animals appeal to those of all ages. Putting the two together can be helpful for clients from young to old. The practice of AAPT and application of its principles are limited only by the creativity of those who use it! While all these elements can be found in different animal-assisted interventions, they are combined and emphasized uniquely in AAPT.


About Tracie.

Hailing from a Scottish Romany Travelling Family there has never been a time when horses and dogs haven’t been integral to her life.  Not one for formal education as a child she learned lots about canine and equine body language and communication from literally being in amongst herds of up to 50 horses for the duration of her childhood and beyond.

Today she lives on a 3300 acre estate still surrounded by horses and dogs (not so many though) and runs Turn About Pegasus an Equine Assisted Play Therapy Centre.


BA (hons) Social Work.

Advanced Award in Social Work

MA Criminology (with Sociology)

MA Non-Directive Play Therapy

PG Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy.

Certified Filial Therapist and Filial Therapy Instructor

Certified Animal Assisted Play Therapist and AAPT Instructor.

Equine Touch level 4

Natural Animal Centre Equine Behaviour Qualification.


Professional Roles

Co-Founder of the International Institute of Animal Assisted Therapy ™

Founder of Turn About Pegasus (Equine Assisted Play Therapy)

Filial Therapy Instructor

Therapeutic Life Story Instructor