Part One: What We Did Right

I recently traveled out of state to co-facilitate 2 days of equine facilitated leadership training with 3 other colleagues from Raleigh, NC.

The facility we worked at is currently providing equine assisted psychotherapy with their herd. We hired two of their “equine specialists” to assist with the program (one was also a therapist).

Here’s what we did right…

  1.       One of our team members met the owner of the facility the month before the program to get the lay of the land, find out the ‘house rules’ and take photos of the areas where we would be working.
  2.       We had an in-depth conversation with the owner about the activities we planned for the 2 days to find out if their horses were able to ‘play’ with us and the structure of our program.
  3.       We met with the handlers and barn manager the day before the program and went over every detail of the agenda to determine which horses would be best suited for each experience.
  4.       We met the horses we would be working with, found out about their ‘horse-analities’ and generally chatted about how awesome this work is and how we all love what we do!

We were delighted with the enthusiasm and willingness of the handlers. All of us felt grounded in the flow of the agenda, which horses were most appropriate for the different experiences planned, and who would be responsible for which horses. We were ready to have the participants meet the herd the next morning.

Or were we?

Day One: The facility was beautiful, everything was in place and we were oh, so grateful for the covered arena as there was a steady rain for day one of the leadership development training. Our first clue that something was amiss should have been when the handlers told us that all the horses were haltered and ready to go so they would be easy to catch. (Hhmm, never thought to ask if they had difficulty ‘catching’ their horses). Of course that speaks volumes about their relationship with their horses – but no time for that, 18 executive leaders just arrived!


To find out how we came to recognize the gaping holes in our preparation and what happened next, Read Part Two: Are Your Program Horses and Handlers Fit For This Work?