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Explorations in Equine Facilitated Wellness


Explorations is the first step in learning about Equine Facilitated Wellness under the Professional Association for Equine Facilitated Wellness model.

The Explorations Training provides an introduction to the field of equine facilitated wellness (EFW) in general, an overview of current EFW programs in North America and a detailed review of the Pro EFW approach to EFW.

By itself the Explorations Training does not provide any qualification or certification.

The Explorations Training contains both didactic, experiential and self-reflective material. Participant learning will be enhanced by an open and heartfelt approach to the work. The extent to which participants involve themselves in the experiential and self- reflective exercises is an individual choice.

The Pro EFW training process involves personal growth, but the Exploration training is not a personal growth or therapy workshop.  Participants are to be encouraged to respect their own and others’ boundaries, and facilitators are to maintain a safe environment in this regard.


Learning Objectives

Development of a basic understanding of EFW through gaining an awareness of a variety of approaches currently available in the field.

Introduction to the mission statement, mandate, principals and ethics promoted by Pro EFW.

Exploration of the unique role and contribution of the equine to the EFW work including the horse as sentient being).

Review and examination of ethical considerations pertaining to horses, facilitators and participants.

Exploration of physical and emotional safety issues for horses, participants and facilitators.

Exploration of risk management issues and discussion around how to manage risk(s) in EWF work, including Pro EFW’s basic insurance requirements.

An opportunity for experiential learning and interaction with horses that demonstrates and honours the principals and ethics supported by Pro EFW.

Awareness of how Pro EFW be applied and be beneficial with different client populations, environments and needs.

Introduction of and familiarization with the Pro EFW process for training, mentoring and certification (including an overview of the training options for future development).

 Understanding of the concept and application of Scope of Practice.

Provision of the opportunity to develop a plan for future goals and training in the field of EFW. This may include the development of draft mission and vision statements.


    Have you ever wondered how a horse can help?

    Discovering self-regulation and boundaries by Susan Cressy MA of Highlands Gate Wellness in Almonte Ontario

    Horses have the natural instincts and ability to judge their environment, assess whether they should be curious and approach, or flee potential danger. They are experts at then, regulating their nervous system, decreasing their heart rate and calmly return to grazing. Horses can teach us valuable lessons about slowing things down so that we can learn to listen to our instincts and then choose how we want to respond. Part of the process of Equine Facilitated Wellness is getting in touch with your senses, emotions, connecting your mind to your body and to your heart to discover what you are experiencing, and honoring that experience whether it be fear, excitement, apprehension, self-doubt or anticipation.

    Safety is a main concern and time is taken for you to assess your comfort level in being with the horses. We meet and observe the herd from over the fence initially, to begin to learn how you can use your senses, like the horses do, to keep yourself in a safe and comfortable environment. Discovering a sense of where your personal boundaries are around the horses also assists the horses to find comfort. There is a myth about not letting a horse know that you are fearful. On the contrary, there have been studies that show when people’s heart rate is elevated around horses, the horses actually lower their heart rate in response to the high energy they sense. They will often stand further away, quietly respecting boundaries until the people are able to recognize what they are experiencing and decide how they want to proceed, or they may approach and push your boundaries to make you more aware of them. People may choose to stand further away or closer, or practice some breathing and grounding techniques to assist them in recognizing and regulating their own nervous system to pause and sense in to what they need.

    The process involves not only listening to your own gut feelings but also tuning in and observing the body language and behavior of the horses so that you can begin to build a respectful relationship with them. The horses sense when people are congruent with what they are sensing in their bodies in relationship to the tape that is playing in their minds, over-riding their body sense, for example, “I shouldn’t be afraid.” “I just want to get close so I’ll pretend I’m OK.” “I’ll show them who is boss, they don’t scare me.” If people can attempt to stay with whatever they are sensing and sit with it for awhile and be curious about the particular sense or emotion, the horses will demonstrate signs of relaxing like licking and chewing and releasing long heavy sighs in their appreciation of a more congruent environment that is easy for them to read. This may all seem hard to imagine or understand at this point until you experience it, so we ask that you come with an open and curious mind to see what lessons the horses have to teach you.

    Susan completed her EFW training at Generation Farms as well as attending many other trainings, conferences and learning situations. She is the President of the Board of Pro EFW and is dually certified as a Mental Health Professional and an Equine Professional.



    It is not just horses and dogs that connect with people. Warm your heart.

    We suggest that you spend some quiet, reflective time, preferably outdoors, allowing what you have read to meet with the hopes and possibilities that bring you to begin this training. 

    There are no extra resources for this module.