Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator  QQI Level 6 Training Programme

Course  Overview

Equine Assisted Learning is a unique way of improving our social, emotional and behavioural competencies through working with horses.

This course is 18 full days onsite at Festina Lente over 6 modules with assignments/projects to be completed in between each module.    

Horses are prey animals and as such, monitor their environment, and the people in it, 24/7. They rely on their keen flight instincts and strong social connections within a herd for survival. By observing and working with these natural behaviours, horses can help us become aware of our own behaviours, responses and actions and the need to modify them within the arena and in daily life. Equine Assisted Learning as a tool for growth and development often focuses on the following key areas: self and social awareness, self management, problem solving, decision making, communication and relationship skills.

EAL is suitable for people of all ages, all backgrounds and all learning abilities and interests – from school pupils to those in the profit and not for profit sector. Ultimately we all need to keep developing our social and emotional competencies.

Learner Profile

This course will be of interest to those who have experience in horsemanship and a background in social care, psychology and/or similar areas.  The course will also be of interest who have 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, psychology and/or similar areas.

Objectives of this programme:

At the end of the Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator Training Programme, learners will be able to:

  • Discuss and evaluate the different approaches and models that have been developed to involve equines as an extension of animal assisted interventions
  • Describe the theoretical frameworks which help to illustrate how and why equines can assist in the achievement of cognitive and behavioural change and the development of social and emotional learning
  • Understand how Equine Assisted Learning and Coaching can help to discover our own learning styles and help people to work with them
  • Understand the significance of Social and Emotional learning
  • Describe the different ways in which horses learn
  • Understand the language of equines
  • Describe the ethical considerations when working with equines
  • Develop Practical Equine Handling skills (Using the Chris Irwin method of horsemanship)
  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of coaching and facilitation and the ethical requirements inherent in both
  • Demonstrate the ability to plan, deliver and evaluate Equine Assisted Learning and Coaching sessions
  • Demonstrate how to market Equine Assisted Learning and Coaching as a Business
  • Demonstrate how to apply for grants in order to promote Equine Assisted Learning and Coaching sessions and programmes

NOTE:  This Training Programme should not be confused with Equine Assisted Psychotherapy or Equine Assisted Therapy as this would require the applicant to be a qualified psychotherapist.

Key features of this programme

  • Practical Hands on Training with Equine
  • Dedicated website for learners
  • Individualised tutor support
  • Tutors with specialist skills and experience
  • Experience of learning in the equestrian environment of Festina Lente which reflects best practice in equine facilitated programmes and equine welfare and management.
  • Access to current research on the benefits of Equine Assisted Learning as it relates to both the benefits to people and its impact on equines.

Course information

Ideally, course participants should:

  • Be over 25 years of age
  • Hold a third level qualification in a social and/or health care field or related area
  • Have a strong background and experience of working with horses in an empathetic and educated manner
  • Have a proven background in the advancement of one’s own professional development
  • Be up to date with best practice in horse care and welfare issues
  • Student must have basic IT word processing and email skills e.g. google document or Microsoft word to write and submit assignments 

For those applicants who do not meet the above criteria but who have sufficient experiences in specific areas, an interview will be part of the application process.

The cost of the Training Programme is €2030, payable in full, no later than 6 weeks before course commencement . Please note cost includes Protection of enrolled learner Insurance. See: https://www.studyandprotect.com/Learn-Protection.aspx

If your application is successful and you are offered a place on the course – you will be sent a link to pay a non-refundable deposit of €250 to secure your place.  Festina Lente CLG is a registered not for profit charity and therefore cannot offer credit, so please do not ask.

The course will be delivered over 6 modules by a variety of tutors and speakers with specialist skills and experience over 18 days at Festina Lente, Co. Wicklow.

There will also be self-directed learning, assignments to be completed between modules along with continuous assessment.  

Festina Lente has been providing services and programmes to people through the medium of equines for 25 years.  Since 2006, Festina Lente has been providing equine assisted learning programmes to hundreds of young people, teenagers and adults. These programmes include Equine Assisted Learning, Supported Helpers Programme and our Equine Facilitated Educational Programme.

Festina Lente’s Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator Training Programme is being delivered as a response to individuals wishing to develop this work in a professional and ethical manner.  It is also in response to requests from those in the health, education and training and social care sectors who wish for the integration of equine assisted learning into the services they provide or as an additional alternative intervention.

This course is accredited by QQI  through a Level 6 Certificate in Life and Workplace Coaching (6S3153) in addition to Festina Lente Equine Assisted Facilitator certification relating to Equine Welfare and Management.

I studied Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) at Festina Lente alongside my Integrative Psychotherapy Degree. I found EAL to be so complimentary to psychotherapy and the learning and experiential practice at Festina Lente was second to none. 

I now have my own psychotherapy and EAL centre in Meath and am looking forward to being of service to adults and children needing the support and insights that equines uniquely provide. 

Fiona Coyne- The Thatch Therapy Centre 

I completed the QQI Level 6 Life & Workplace Coaching Equestrian Assisted Facilitator programme at Festina Lente in 2022. I probably entered the course somewhat naïve and, truthfully, a little sceptical about the course, however I was totally amazed by what I learnt throughout my time there. I enjoyed the modules and completing the assignments, each one built on the knowledge I had, not only surrounding equine assisted learning (EAL) but also horse behaviour, learning theory and even how to effectively coach a variety of people with a range of learning styles.

By the end of this course I was left in no doubt about the positive impact EAL can and does have for a wide selection of clients. This course has had an impact on all aspects of my own life, from the work I perform with my own horses to how I teach and coach riders with theirs. I found the material was well taught by very knowledgeable lecturers, each bringing their own expertise and experience to the material. Overall I highly recommend this course to anyone with a passion for both horses and helping others.

Andrew Ross 

I studied the Level 6 Life & Workplace Coaching/EAL Facilitation course. I found the course challenging, in a positive way, giving me lots of reasons to reflect on my learning while gaining new insights into coaching models and academic research. This all then tied together when I was with my very first clients in the presence of our donkeys. Feedback was always constructive while encouraging and really pushed you to look at your own strengths and areas for improvement. This course not only developed my love for EAL but also developed my own understanding of myself through reflective coaching practise. 

Melanie McComb, Centre Manager, Donkey Assisted Therapy 

Please note that learners must attend at least 17 days of the 18 days across the modules. In the event that more than one day is missed from any of the modules, learners will be required to repeat the day/s the following year which may delay official graduation from the programme.

EAL Practice sessions outside of the course dates below can be done in Festina Lente Equestrian Centre but there is a fee of €60 per session, the same charge applies to rescheduled assessments.