Last year in March, it was announced that a register of practitioners offering equine-assisted therapy (EAT) is launching soon. The online register will provide governance and improve credibility across the industry.
A working party held a consultation that engaged more than 200 organizations. The working party includes the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), Hartpury College, HorseBack UK, and Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship.
HETI (Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy International) governs this online register. HETI is a non-profit organization that enables organizations offering EAT to successfully collaborate with individuals.
But before this, an organization needs to ensure standards for good practice. The documents required for validation include evidence of insurance cover, qualifications, and policies, and training. Verification of these documents will be done before enlisting applicants on the register.
Also, suggestions are put forward to authorize an independent committee for matters of the EAT. This committee shall consist of HETI committee members, funders, and providers from representative disciplines and shall work on behalf of the sector.
Ed Bracher, Chief executive of outgoing RDA and chairperson of HEIR working party, told H&H the consultation showed “clear demand” for online register offering EAT.
“We wish everyone to work together for EAT. Our vision is to help organizations to upgrade their standards of practice, improve their services, and enhance an individual’s experience in the long run.”
“When we achieve our goal, we will be granting everybody a way to collaborate willingly. The more we can maneuver the online register, the better.”
Sarah Urwin, chair of trustees of Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship, told H&H the consultation show that there is an “absolute necessity” for the register.
“Due to lack of national occupational standards, the register for EAT could be used as a way of treatment,” She said.
“There is a slight difference in equine-assisted therapy, equine-assisted learning, and equine-assisted activities. And not every service commissioner can tell how these terms are different and what qualifications are required to provide the best services. Though EAT is an amazing way to work with people, it is quite dangerous. Not many people have a deep understanding of engaging in equine-assisted activities. This issue leads to incompetency.
“Our goal is to establish a system that will help all the people involved in the process: service commissioners, the people receiving the services, and the people delivering these services. They will have more understanding of how the system works. With this online register, we can properly monitor the outcomes of these services.”
Sarah Jane Williamson, the chief executive of Mary and Foal Sanctuary, assists the South-West Practitioners Network – a corporation that delivers EAT in Devon and Cornwell. She told H&H the consultation was “very positive” for EAT.
“The organization is looking forward to the launching. It will allow practitioners to exchange information on standards of good practice and improve the standards focusing on the welfare of horses especially involved in equine-assisted activities.”