An exploratory study into the backgrounds and perspectives of equine-assisted service practitioners

Rita Seery*, Deborah Wells

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Equine-Assisted Services (EASs) are commonplace in today’s society, but vary widely in both theoretical and practical applications. Until now, practitioners’ experiences and perspectives in relation to these services have received little attention. To address this, a purpose-designed online questionnaire was distributed to EAS practitioners, exploring issues relating to the nature of the service provided, practice patterns, practitioner education, perceived knowledge, challenges faced and the future direction of these services. An analysis revealed a significant association between practitioners’ backgrounds and the nature of the service offered, as well as perceived knowledge. Median EAS training received to first practice was 20 days of block release over a year; however, nearly half of the sample (42.4%) reported less training than this. Equine-specific training was more limited, with 41.5% of practitioners having no horse-relevant qualifications. The most important challenges reported by practitioners involved client and equine welfare, financial sustainability and raising awareness of EAS. This research highlights the diverse nature of EAS and also raises important challenges and possible opportunities for development. Findings suggest that more progress is needed to professionalise and legitimise the area to support and help practitioners provide the best service for all concerned.

Original languageEnglish
Article number347
Number of pages20
JournalAnimals
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2024

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