Understanding the difference between equine assisted coaching (EAC), equine assisted learning (EAL) and equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is an important place to start when looking at career options in equine assisted services. Terms can differ but the difference between EAP, EAC and EAL lies primarily in the scope of the facilitator.

  • An Equine Assisted Psychotherapist is a licensed mental health provider. They must carry licensing to diagnose and treat severe mental health challenges.
  • An Equine Assisted Coach is not a licensed mental health provider. An EAC combines humans and horses through a series of discussions and equestrian guided activities on the ground and riding.
  • Equine Assisted Learning focuses primarily on life skill building. It is neither psychotherapy nor coaching. It also differs from traditional riding instruction because it seeks to develop skills that do not necessarily relate to riding and horsemanship.
  • There are not too many training centres for equine assisted services (EAS) in Ireland. Festina Lente is perhaps the most established offering two types of course:

    Therapeutic Riding Coach

    This course will be of interest to those who have experience in Horsemanship and an interest in applying this skill to working with people with special needs. Therapeutic riding lessons can be offered to clients either in a specialised equestrian business or as an addition to their client lesson choices in a Riding School.

    The course will be of interest to those who currently work with people with special needs and demonstrate a desire to integrate the two areas for training and development purposes.

    Equine Assisted Learning

    This course will be of interest to those who have experience in horsemanship and a background in social care, psychology or similar areas. The course will also be of interest to those with demonstrable experience of working with vulnerable groups of people and who have experience in horsemanship but do not have a formal qualification in social care, psychologyor similar areas. 

    Internationally renowned

    For those interested in the equine assisted psychotherapist route, you would first have to qualify in psychotherapy and then could complete a course with the likes of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. EAGALA is an internationally renowned organisation whose model incorporates a licensed mental health professional and a qualified equine specialist working together with horses and clients as equal partners.