Best Practices for Facilitators

The following are the Guidelines and Policies of the EponaQuest Foundation (EQF).


  • Facilitators maintain situational awareness and are prepared to address physical and emotional safety of the horse and human participant(s).
  • Facilitators have appropriate insurance for their practice. Facilitators use caution and care to remain within the scope of their education, certificate, license or insurance.
  • Facilitators are familiar with and comply with equine liability laws in the state where they are conducting their practice.
  • An activity-appropriate ratio of staff to participants shall be maintained (refer to your insurance provider or certifying authority).

The Horses

  • The age of the horse and its’ emotional maturity is thoroughly evaluated before considering the horse for work in Equine Facilitated Learning. Most horses reach emotional maturity at around seven years of age.
  • Equine partners are carefully observed for their ability to continue in their assigned role, and are afforded opportunities to rest, drink and withdraw from activities. Horses are not worked more than three hours without a break that includes no tack, stall rest and water. Grass hay or pasture turnout where available.
  • Horses are appropriately warmed up for the activity by trained staff.
  • For mounted work, horses and riders are appropriately matched in size and weight (for guidelines, refer to,, or
  • The EQF highly recommends the use of safety or break-away stirrups, and/or toe cages. If saddles are of the English type, the stirrup bar is left in straight position for easier break-away.

During the course of instruction or training, Facilitators take care to:

  • Model and enforce safety practices, including:

♦ wearing sturdy, closed toe shoes (with a well-defined heel when riding);
♦ the wearing of an ASTM Approved helmet when riding;

  • Keeping one foot well grounded (for rapid movement away from the horse) when working on the ground with a horse.
  • Teach and practice a physically appropriate emergency dismount.
  • No alcohol or mood-altering substances are used.

Begin a Session

  • An Instructor or Facilitator begins the first session with:
  • A “Safety Around Horses” discussion prior to work with horses that includes elementary information about equine physiology and instinctual nature;
  • A review of the facility safety rules, emergency procedures and the signing of facility and instructor “release of liability” forms
  • A respectful introduction to the horse partners, other participants, volunteers, staff and facilitators.

During a Session

  • Honor the horses as colleagues, designing exercises that are mutually safe and humane. Acknowledge the horses’ responses and expressive behaviors as essential to participant or observer insight development.
  • Recognize the emotional and physical state of the horse and participant, and monitor effects on behavior and performance.
  • Facilitators are aware of how their own physical and emotional states, as well as current viewpoints influence perceptions and perspectives.
  • Recognize, understand and be able to apply the principles of projection, transference & counter transference.
  • It is recommended that Facilitators have a plan to make referrals to appropriate clinicians, as necessary.
  • Allow and listen for those moments horse facilitates personal growth and development
  • Participate in regular continuing education and/or study with other experts in the field of equine facilitated mental health and experiential learning.
For further information or questions:

EponaQuest Foundation Best Practices Chair Barbara K. Rector at +1 520 247 3383 or

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