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Experiential Learning with Horses


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  • Monday, February 19, 2018 9:08 AM | Anonymous

    (Lexington, KY Jan 30, 2018) The US-based Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) will hold its first international certification in the United Kingdom this summer. Practitioners who attend will learn the process of facilitating experiential learning programs that partner with horses to teach leadership skills, life skills, team building and personal development.

     The certification will take place in South West England June 5th through the 11th, 2018 at the scenic Cherry Orchard Farm, a Bed and Breakfast owned and operated by Rosie Tomkins of Natural Capital, Ltd.  It is open to interested practitioners located throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and from other international destinations.

     “There is a huge need in both the UK and Europe for certification programs that give practitioners the skills for facilitating experiential learning with horses that emphasize the difference between learning and development and the therapeutic applications of this work, like therapeutic riding, or equine assisted psychotherapy”, said Tomkins. “My corporate clients are very goal and results oriented.  If they leave their offices to do a workshop, they want to walk away with new skillsets, awareness and actions steps that improve their performance”.

     “The E3A curriculum is based on adult experiential learning theory and has been compared to taking graduate level classes in facilitating transformational change, says Lissa Pohl, Vice President and Master Trainer for E3A. “We are very excited to bring our model of facilitating transformational learning experiences with horses to the United Kingdom.”

    E3A offers two levels of certification. Level 1, includes over 50 hours of instructional time that are divided into three modules consisting of C1: Introduction to the Equine Experiential Education Method (a short teleclass) followed by C2: Foundations of Equine Experiential Education Facilitation and C3: Advanced Equine Experiential Education Facilitation. Both C2 and C3 are three day arena classes where participants get hands on facilitation experience with horses. The arena classes are all limited to between 12 and 14 participants so that each person gets ample time being coached by two E3A Master Trainers on how to design, facilitate and debrief horse activities with clients. The modules in Level 1 are sequential and can be taken separately or all at once. Certification is received upon completion of self-tests for each of the modules.  Level 2, Specialty Certification in Equine Experiential Education, is a competency based certification for advanced practitioners who have completed Level 1.

    For more information on how to register for this inaugural certification in the United Kingdom, or for becoming a member, please go to www.e3assoc.org  or contact E3A at staff@e3assoc.org

    E3A is the premiere organization in the United States for certifying professionals wanting to learn how to effectively facilitate Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) programs in the corporate, educational, coaching and personal development fields.  E3A was founded in 2006 by business professionals who recognized that there was a need in the field of Equine Assisted Activities to provide certification programing that would support practitioners pursuing non-therapeutic forms of this work.

    Natural Capital, Ltd. is a consulting company that offers corporate leadership development programs with horses across the United Kingdom and at Cherry Orchard Farm in South Wraxall just 15 minutes east of Bath.

    More Information

  • Tuesday, May 10, 2016 1:11 PM | Anonymous

     When we talk about success or failure, one of the most important elements determining which outcome you'll get is your MINDSET.  You may have heard the term "mindset" before and wondered what it meant.   Essentially, mindset refers to how you think about things.  It refers to the assumptions and beliefs that guide you. 

     I find it useful to think about mindset in terms of beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, assumptions, and values that empower you or limit you.  Mindsets--whether positive or negative, empowering or limiting, create feelings, which creates behaviors and actions, which, in turn, create results.  The results are your success or failure--your outcome.

    Many people don't realize how important their mindset is.  In my experience, your mindset absolutely determines your results--your success or failure. 

    While people often realize the need to change their mindset, they don't realize that it isn't as easy as deciding to change and saying positive affirmations.  You can chant "there are no weeds in my garden, there are no weeds in my garden" nonstop for the next month, and your garden will still be overtaken by weeds.  You see, most often, your mindset limitations operate unconsciously. 

    You may have formed them at a time in your life when they were true, but our situations do change.  However, what happens to the limiting belief or mindset limitation is that once it is established, it becomes unconscious.  That means it is automatically running without your even being aware of it.  For example, many people have the limiting belief that "I'm not good enough."  Maybe at one point in your life that was true.  You may not have had the skills, experience or confidence.  If I asked you today if you believe you aren't good enough, you might even answer, "Well, I think I'm about as good as anybody else."  That's your conscious mind reasoning that you are probably as good as others.  But deep down, where it counts, you may unconsciously still believe "I'm not good enough."  That's the program that's running and is in charge of everything you do.  Think of it as being like a bad computer virus, chugging away beneath the surface, messing up your system, and you aren't even aware of it.

    When you have unconscious limiting beliefs, you have to pull them out by the roots.  You first have to identify them, then have an experience that will challenge it and change it. 

    Want to know more?  Tune in for the E3A Community Network Meeting NM5b on May 26, 2016, at 7 p.m. Eastern.  I'll tell you the answer, and a whole lot more.  You'll learn how The Key to Success is Between Your Ears.  This teleconference is free to E3A members, and $10 for non-members.  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.


  • Tuesday, May 03, 2016 9:21 AM | Anonymous
    Entrepreneurs and others in business talk a lot about success.  We even act as though we know what they are talking about.  But the truth is, the definition of success varies between people, and unless you know what definition of success you are using, you won't be able to achieve it. 

    For example, for some folks, success is a specific amount of money earned.  For others, it might be some sort of recognition.  For still others, it might be a balanced life.  Or time spent with family and friends.  Or success might be making a difference in someone's life.  The point is that unless you are perfectly clear about what success means to YOU, you might be chasing someone else's dream, not yours.

    I see it all the time in my business, coaching entrepreneurs and business owners.  They sign on to some expert's program with the promise of becoming successful, including making six figures or more.  Sounds good, right?  But the problem is that the expert's definition of success might not fit you.  You can follow their blueprint, but if it doesn't really fit you--with your own definition of success--you most likely won't have lasting results. 

    Your definition of success has to fit you.  What you consider successful needs to speak to YOUR values, YOUR dreams, YOUR desire, YOUR personality.  Otherwise your success is incongruent with who you really are, and your success will be based upon being inauthentic. 

    I don't care how brilliant you are; if your success (personal or business) if based on things that don't really fit you, you will not be able to maintain it.  Period.

    To test this out, partner with a horse (your own or someone else's).  Approach your horse at liberty in a pasture.  When you are about 20 feet away, begin to tell the horse your definition of success and what you intend to do to get there.  Continue walking closer as you speak, watching the horse's body language.  If the horse moves away or turns his/her head away from you, this is a sign you are not being congruent.  The horse doesn't have to understand complicated business plans to know that you are full of hooey.  Try again.  When you've got it, the horse is likely to relax and engage.  Now you've got it. Your definition of success is congruent and really fits you.

    Linda Pucci, Ph.D. is a personal and business coach and owner of The Inner Resource Center, LLC.  She has spent over 35 years helping people overcome obstacles to their success.  She is a founding member of the Equine Experiential Education Association, a Level II E3A Advanced Certified Practitioner with a Specialty in Corporate Training, an E3A Master Trainer, and a Certified Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming.  If you want help creating your successful, contact her at linda@InnerResourceCenter.com . Linda will also be presenting at the next Community Network Meeting NM5b: The Key to Success is Between Your Ears on May 26, 2016 at 7 pm Eastern.  To register, click here. 

  • Wednesday, March 30, 2016 10:21 AM | Ginny Telego (Administrator)

    So, you’ve completed your E3A Certification, secured a client, done the client assessment and scheduled an EAL workshop. Now what?

    Unlike a training session in a conference room, the “to-do” list to prepare for an EAL workshop is extensive, given all of the moving parts that must be managed.  If you’ve attended the E3A certification, you have a great resource available in the templates that were provided for workshop preparation.   In my experience putting on workshops, I’ve found the following three areas of preparation to be critical to having a workshop be successful.

    1.       Know your abilities as a facilitator.  This isn’t a formal item on the preparation list, but it’s a key component to having a workshop be successful.  If you are doing a leadership and/or team development workshop with businesses, you and/or your co-facilitator should have experience and knowledge about that world.  Business people in particular will be more responsive to your facilitation of the exercises with the horses if you can share your own experience in “their” world.  If you’ve never worked in the corporate world, they will question your ability to understand the realities of their challenges.  Don’t discount your experience running your farm as business experience.  You likely have experience hiring and firing employees, managing multiple projects at one time, dealing with difficult customers and understand the challenges of maintaining services with reduced resources.  Also be sure that you are prepared to facilitate the experience with the horses all the way through to the “Transform” stage (of our DIPIT model) so that clients are able to create the action steps needed to take what they learn and apply it back in their workplace.  If you are working with youth or doing personal development, be sure you are prepared to help them determine the action steps to apply what they’ve learned to some other area of their life.

    2.       Know your clients.  If you are working with corporate clients, you should have done research on the organization during the assessment process.  Be sure you have a thorough understanding of the work they do so you can create powerful metaphors through the context of the horse exercises.  If you don’t know that your client’s organization manufactures a certain type of widget, you may miss an opportunity during an exercise with the horses to help them see strengths or challenges as they relate to their work environment.  It’s also important to have a good understanding of the organizational culture, mission and values.  You learned in the E3A certification that these are areas which need to be understood by the facilitator in order to help the clients drive cultural change and move the organization forward. 

    3.       Know your equine facilitators.  Just because you have a horse and a pasture doesn’t mean an EAL workshop is going to be successful.  While we know our horses don’t require special training to do EAL work, they do need to have some basic “skills” to be effective in the work.  If you’ve attended the E3A certification you have several pages of information on horse behavior and traits of successful equine co-facilitators.  It’s also important to remember that how your horses behave with YOU is not how they will likely behave with clients.  Clients bring their own “stuff” into the arena/pasture – whether they are corporate clients, youth or personal development clients – and it’s critical that you as a facilitator are prepared to watch your horses carefully for unexpected behavior (good or bad) and to know what that looks like.  I can’t believe how many times I’ve been observing clients with my herd and said to my co-facilitator “Wow, I’ve never seen my horses do that before.”  With my herd, I know which horses can work together in small areas; I know which horses can manage high energy clients or dysfunctional teams; I have one horse that does not work well with groups but is phenomenal in one-on-one sessions; I know when my horses need a break.  Our horses are dependent on us to ensure their well-being with this work as we are asking them to take on a tremendous amount of emotional input from our clients as well as ourselves.  When you set them up for success, it will reflect with your clients.

    So as you are preparing for your EAL workshop and going through your “To do” list, don’t forget these three things.  If you can check these off, forgetting the napkins will be minor. J

  • Thursday, March 24, 2016 9:26 AM | Anonymous

    Okay, now that I have your attention--I want to talk about a serious subject: the size of your equine assisted learning (EAL) workshops. 

    When someone is learning new behaviors, especially in an experiential workshop, the size of the workshop becomes very important.  Each of us processes information in our own unique way and in our own time.  When they are interacting in equine assisted learning activities, an "aha" may be instantaneous for one person and take lots of time and discussion for someone else.  As an Equine Assisted Facilitator, you need to make sure you create an environment that is open to learning.  Each person comes with their own set of knowledge, experience, and yes, baggage.  That means when you do a group EAL workshop, you cannot assume that everybody will profit from the experience in the same way.

    Keeping the size of your group to a manageable level is one way of ensuring that the most people benefit from the experience in a way that will be most helpful to them.  If you have a group of 25 or 30 or 50 in your training, it will be tough for each member of the group to participate in the discussion, let alone play an active role in the activity with the horses. 

     The more your group members can participate, the more they are able to walk away with "aha's" that can transform their lives.  (We at E3A don't set our workshop objectives low--we're pushing for transformational change).  If you have been hired to work with large organizations, consider dividing them into smaller groups and adding more facilitators.  You not only want the bodies to help keep them safe around the horses, you want full discussions and facilitation of their experience so that they can get new learning and/or solutions to the problems they and their team face. 

     That's why we at E3A keep our workshops small.  We want everybody to participate in the activities with horses, and in the discussion that follows.  Typically, we don't allow more than 12 people, especially in our certification classes.  That's because we want everybody to have an opportunity to do all the tasks and roles you will do as equine assisted learning practitioners in your own business. 

     It also helps protect your horses.  Consider how it is for our equine partners when they are surrounded by a mass of chaotic energy, which is what you typically have in large dysfunctional groups.  Why dysfunctional?  They are coming to you for help with some issue(s) they are having as a team or as individuals.  Even highly functioning teams display discomfort when interacting in this brand new setting with animals they don't know. 

     In my own workshops, we have typically had no more than 12 participants with two facilitators.  Working as a team allows you to fully handle all the responsibilities, and ensures that everybody gets maximum attention and a full experience.

    What's the ideal workshop size?  As with all things, it depends on the type of workshop.  I think usually 8-12 is ideal.  That size gives you enough people to do the activities and have a spirited, juicy discussion without people getting ignored (or if they do get ignored, you can spot it and utilize it in your debriefing).  On occasion, I might go up to 15 or do a workshop with as few as six people.  Each EAL practitioner will make his/her own decision about the size of the workshops they hold.    

     Keep in mind:  Equine assisted learning is intense, powerful work, and for participants to benefit the most, they need to be more than one person in a huge herd.  Size does matter, because by keeping workshop sizes small, you can better ensure that participants get the best you and the horses have to offer. 

     Linda Pucci, Ph.D. is a founding member of E3A, an E3A Certified Advanced Practitioner with a Specialty in Corporate Training, and an E3A Master Trainer.  She has been doing equine assisted learning since 2003.  Linda is a personal and business coach at the Inner Resource Center, LLC, specializing in business growth, mindset issues, and overcoming obstacles to success with her clients.  She can be reached at Linda@InnerResourceCenter.com or through her website www.InnerResourceCenter.com

  • Tuesday, February 02, 2016 6:00 AM | Margaret Wilson (Administrator)

    Professionals in many fields wonder whether or not to invest time and money in becoming certified.  It's a great question, and the answer varies with the person's needs.

    Those of us in the equine assisted learning field recognize that horses have tons of knowledge to share with us, and none of THEM are certified.  Unfortunately, we humans are generally not as "in tune" with each other and our environment as they are.  We aren't as attuned to the nuances of non-verbal behaviors as they are. 

    Becoming certified in a field of study or technique is a declaration of your commitment to excellence.  Face it.  It takes time, money and energy to learn techniques or an approach well enough to become certified.  Good certification programs don't give out a certificate just for attending, just for showing up.  Certification credentials should be given once the student or professional demonstrates their competence through some sort of testing procedure. 

    At E3A, we have two levels of certification.  Level I is a knowledge-based certification.  After about 64 hours of study and class work, the student must pass a series of tests over the materials, demonstrating their mastery of the materials.  Level II is a competency-based certification, where students put on an actual equine assisted workshop and are observed during their preparation and delivery of that workshop and rated on 47 criteria. 

    Because certification takes a considerable commitment of time, effort and money, you need to decide for yourself whether it will be useful for you and your equine assisted learning business.

    One of the main reasons people bother becoming certified is that they want to become proficient in certain techniques or an approach.  We find people take our certification programs because they want the knowledge we present about doing equine assisted learning with corporations, educational programs or personal development.  They are intrigued by the idea that "one size doesn't fit all," and they like the idea that we'll teach them the kinds of questions that work best for each context or target audience.

    The second primary reason people seek a certification is that they want the credibility that such a credential gives them.  We find this is especially important when working with corporate groups.  Companies typically want a good return on investment, and although they may not initially understand how a workshop with horses will help their leadership or team building, they know to check the credentials of those who do training for their employees. They want to know that you have experience and training for working with their populations.  And sorry, being a therapist isn't a particularly sought-after credential when working with this population.  I found that out the hard way when I approached companies touting my psychologist credential.  Yikes, they didn't really want a therapist any where near their employees. 

    Not everybody cares about working with someone who is certified.  But as you are building your reputation as an equine assisted facilitator, having some sort of credential may help.  Eventually, of course, people will hear about the wonderful things you do with horses and how powerful the learning is.  In the meantime, however, having certification as an equine assisted practitioner can really help you build your business. 

    Want to learn more about the Equine Experiential Education's (E3A) certification programs?  Go to www.E3Assoc.org or call us at (775) 376-2530.  I hope to see you at a future certification training.

    Linda Pucci, E3A Master Trainer, E3A Advanced Certified Practitioner with a Corporate Specialty

  • Wednesday, December 30, 2015 9:22 PM | Ginny Telego (Administrator)

    C4: Specialty Certification in Equine Experiential Education (Corporate, Education, or Personal Development Specialty) by Linda Pucci, Ph.D.

    Sometimes people wonder "what's next?" when they finish their certification as a Level 1 E3A Certified Practitioner.  Maybe they are just starting their business, or maybe they've been doing some type of equine assisted work for awhile. Jumping in and beginning to do workshops, especially with corporate groups, can be daunting.  It can be really challenging to plan those first workshops.  

    But what if you could have two E3A Master Trainers coach you through the process?  What if you had all of the E3A templates to use, so that you didn't have to start from scratch?  What if you had other E3A Certified Practitioners to do it with you?  These are just some of the benefits of taking the C4: Specialty Certification in Equine Experiential Education (Corporate, Education or Personal Development Specialties).  

    When you sign up to take C4, you are pursuing our competency-based certification.  Your Level I certification is a knowledge-based certification, indicating that you've mastered the knowledge necessary to doing Equine Assisted work.  The Level II E3A Advanced Certification with a Specialty indicates that you've demonstrated your competence in a specialty area. It is a credential you can wear with pride, because it isn't necessarily an easy one to earn.  

    Here's how it works:

    • Notify E3A at staff@e3assoc.org to let us know you are interested in getting your specialty certification and in what specialty.  You must pick Corporate, Education or Personal Development. (If you need help doing that, contact us and we'll help you figure out which is likely to be most useful to you).
    • If you know others (perhaps from your C2 and C3 training) that are interested in that specialty, contact them.  We may also know students who are interested in the same specialty.  You must have a minimum of 4 people.  
    • Once you have your team, you'll need to sign up for C4 to get all the materials and to have Master Trainers assigned.  
    • Your team will need to find a client.  You can deliver the workshop for free or charge for it.  We leave that up to you.  You also find the facility and horses.  
    • The Master Trainers assigned begin to work with you via three conference calls to prepare for the workshop.  We'll help you create the proposal (remember, there are templates to make that easier), you'll research the group you're going to work with, and you'll figure out what pre-workshop assessment to use and how to determine what issues you'll address in the workshop.  Your team will work together to get all the preparation done, and we'll be there to coach you through the process.
    • The Master Trainers will show up at the location you've picked for the workshop, and we'll review your agenda, your handout materials, and the horse activities you have planned.  
    • The day of your workshop, we'll be lurking on the sidelines, evaluating your performance.  
    • Following the workshop, your team will put together the Workshop Summary Report.
    • Each team member will also create an original horse activity that you are willing to share with E3A.
    • While you are doing those post-workshop activities, the E3A Master Trainers will be compiling information from the 47 criteria upon which you are each rated.  
    • We meet with you to give you feedback on what we see as your strengths and weaknesses. Then, we celebrate your earning your Level II E3A Advanced Certification with a Specialty-- often with cake!

    Level II E3A Advanced Certified Practitioners tell us that while the process challenges you, it also prepares you for just about anything that can come along in your future workshops.  It is an great opportunity to be "coached to competence" in the E3A model and in your equine assisted work.  

    If you have any questions about your readiness for C4, you can contact Linda Pucci at 865-983-7544 or at linda@innerresourcecenter.com

  • Sunday, May 18, 2014 12:39 PM | Susan Urban
    By Susan and Joseph Urban, E3A Certified Advanced Practitioners (Corporate)

    One of the advantages of equine-assisted learning (EAL) is that the activities get people out of the office and into an environment where they are challenged by what our equine friends can tell us about ourselves. For most people that are running an EAL business, or may be preparing to start one in the near future (like ourselves), conducting and facilitating horse activities is one of the most fun and enjoyable
    parts of the job. Running a successful EAL business, however, also requires business skills above and beyond knowing how to successfully facilitate horse activities.
    Coming from academic careers, we personally have much to learn about running an equine-based service business. Fortunately, E3A provides a series of four business courses with breadth and depth to focus on topics such as developing your
    business vision, mission, and values; facility operations and volunteer development; online and offline marketing; and strategic and business development planning. The materials for these courses are based on a book authored by PJ Stegen, with Kim Shook contributor, entitled Everything You Need to Know to GET STARTED in an Equine-Based Service Business. We have taken three of these courses with plans the
    take the fourth course, and highly recommend the E3A business development series to anyone planning to begin a new EAL business.

    We would also like to hear from equine facilitators with experience in starting and running a successful EAL business. For the benefit of E3A members that are in the beginning stages of establishing an EAL business, what words of wisdom can the experienced members provide about the business skills needed to run a profitable enterprise?
  • Friday, May 02, 2014 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    By Kim Shook, VP of Operations at BASIC, E3 Facilitator, & E3A Master Trainer

    Every business is looking for ways to be more competitive and more efficient.  Gallup's extensive research into human behaviors and strengths has shown that there is a powerful connection between business teams achieving more and developing an organizational culture focused on individual and team strengths.

    This is all about employee engagement.  People that use their strengths are six times more likely to be engaged on the job.  That means they are less likely to leave their current position and therefore the employer retains the talent (avoiding the cost to pay to replace and rebuild the talent).  Also, people are significantly more productive when they are engaged.  That also leads to reduced costs and improved client engagement, which can only be obtained with employee engagement.  Gallup's research clearly shows that leveraging strengths can impact performance and the bottom line.  However it takes more than just having staff take the StrengthsFinder assessment tool.  Rather, it takes a focused effort to create a culture that is Strengths Oriented.  That means living and breathing strengths in almost every area.

    You can learn more in this Gallup Business Journal Article titled, How Employees' Strengths Make Your Company Stronger, which has more statistics about the results that can be achieved with a culture based on strengths:  http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/167462/employees-strengths-company-stronger.aspx

  • Monday, April 28, 2014 1:44 AM | Anonymous

    Personal growth means choosing to remain open and receive the lessons we are given; Choosing to learn by what ever comes our way.

    Dr. Christina Hibbert

    Isn't this why we have Equines as our partners and facilitators? If more people could be open, the horses will show us so many things about ourselves that will lead us to self fulfillment.

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