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Degrees needed to do this work with horses and children

Hello Franklin,

I was just wondering what kind of degree's you have? I am interested in working with children and horses when I graduate from college here at the University of Idaho so I was just looking around to see what degree's I would need to be as successful as you.

Thanks, Teresa

Hi Teresa,

Actually, I am not a college graduate. I did take a few years of psychology while I did attend university. However, my life took a dramatic turn fully into the world of horses at a young age. I am nearly 61 years old and have been a professional (received money) horseman since the age of 17. I ran riding programs at summer camps when I was in my 20's. I was an outfitter at my Maui ranch for over 25 years. I began my first Equine Facilitated Learning Program (The Maui Horse Whisperer Experience) about 18 years ago, before EGALA, EAP, and the band wagon of Equine Assisted Therapies began (before degrees that had anything to do with horses and children together). Besides providing corporate programs and programs for tourists interested in horses, I invited local Maui agencies to bring me special needs children to have these guided experiences with horses. I either gave the programs away to the agencies, as most had no money or charged a minimum. The benefits of the programs were immediately apparent, so, they grew.

A life doing what I do has not really about 'successful' money making. That has never been my goal (at my age now, perhaps this was not so good). There are many opportunities for success in various avenues in life. It depends on one's focus and desires. For me, it has always about being of service to horses and humans. It was always about making a positive difference for the individuals I was working with, whether equine or human. Consider allowing your focus not be fully on credentials as much as heart and experience. Certainly degrees are important and really do say something about specific types of education that has been gained. But a drivers license does not a great driver make. All the degrees/certifications in the world will not make you a great or knowledgeable horse person either. Nor will they give you the understanding of equine behavior so badly overlooked by the majority of people doing these programs and who teach maintenance and riding of equines, but do not teach anything about horses themselves. Mental health professionals abound with more degrees than one can shake a stick at. Real horse professionals, people who understand the nature of horses and know how to PARTNER with a horse and not just use it as a living ink-blot test are a rare find. I have spoken at conferences concerning this work and been very critical of organizations such as EGALA and their practices. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is particular, along with programs where humans constantly project onto the horse what they think the horse feels and thinks for the purposes of processing the human's 'stuff'.. make me cringe.

I supppose I have done these programs all these years simply because I could do them effectively and enjoyed seeing the great benefits for those participating (including the horses). I was taught a lot by Barbara Rector . She co-founded the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Assoc. EFMHA (the mental health arm of NARHA) probably 20 years ago or more. She was the ground zero of this work. She has been an outstanding horse person all her life. We are about the same age. Please visit her website. So, to complete this respnse to you, I commend you for wanting a life with horses and also assisting and helping humans. Any degrees you get will help as formal education is a desirable and wonderful thing. However, this work and lifestyle is not like getting a degree and moving into a junior corporate position. There are no shortcuts. Horses must be experienced over time (and a lot of it) to become good and knowledgeable with them. You will not learn this in a classroom or a certification course no matter how expensive or long. Practical experience with special needs children is required as well as any degrees in psychology. One must drive quite a few miles, over a lot of different terrain, different roads, through different weather, with different vehicles of varying types, to be considered an experienced driver. The licenses and degrees are merely the beginning. Thank you for your question and the best of luck to you. Please feel free to cantact me at anytime should you think I can assist you.

Sincerely, Franklin

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