The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (Eagala) is both an international certifying organization and an evidence-based mental health practice model utilizing horses in the delivery of mental health treatment. Eagala certifies both mental health and equine professionals in its specific methodology after the completion of an immersive training program. Happier Trails is one of only a few teams that holds an Eagala certification in the state of New Hampshire.
Eagala is a different method of equine therapy compared to other models people may be more familiar with. First, horses are not merely therapy tools, but full-fledged equal treatment team members that have unique contributions to make to the therapeutic process. There is no riding or horsemanship in Eagala, which is why no horse experience is necessary to take part and immediately begin the therapeutic process. Clients and their treatment team are in a space with our horse partners in what is commonly referred to as 'at liberty', meaning the horses are untethered in the space and free to act and interact in whatever way they choose. Second, is that Eagala utilizes a treatment team approach. A team consists of the Client, the horse(s), the mental health specialist, and an equine specialist. Eagala prioritizes Client and horse well-being. Properly attending to the emotional and safety needs of both the Client and horses in the space is more than one clinician could probably do well, so Eagala adds an equine specialist to the sessions to monitor the well-being of the horses. Working together, the mental health provider and equine specialist will facilitate sessions and build treatment plans that allow Clients to explore their healing journeys in a way that preserves horse welfare. Equine Specialists are held to the same rules of confidentiality as the mental health therapist.
To learn more about the Eagala model and why it works, access an informational brochure here.
Eagala requires practitioners to treat and maintain horse team members in an ethical way in accordance with the National Horse Council's Welfare Code of Practice found here.