Horse Help Center
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Careers in Equine (Assisted) Therapy
Dear Mr. Levinson,
First, I just want to say, that as a student, your website holds a mountain of information, and I am reading through it with more enjoyment than I am any of my texts books. I came across your website while looking for information on equine therapy and the work that you are doing is really amazing.
Secondly, my question for you has nothing to do with me wanting to buy anything from you, so I am sorry if I am wasting your time, I am sure you are a very busy man. That aside, I am a student at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA and what I want to do is to work with horses. Namely, as an equine therapist; I was wondering if you had any advice for what direction I can take my education in so that I can do this; and perhaps even a place where I can go to do some kind of work-study. Unfortunately, there is no program for this at Bucknell, the field is rather specific, but I was wondering if perhaps you think it would be a good idea to study animal behaviorism or perhaps child psychology; or maybe even to pursue a veterinary degree and go from there.
As you can see I am a little bit muddled on how to get to where I want to be so any advice at all would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time, and for putting up such a wonderful website.
You don't need to buy anything to receive what assistance or suggestions I can offer. I am delighted you find my website helpful. When you say your are interested in a career in Equine Therapy, you need to make it more clear. Do you mean Equine Assisted Therapies, as opposed to therapies to assist equines. Equine therapy helps horses. Equine assisted therapy helps humans. You state you want to work with horses as an equine therapist. Literally, that means helping horses to heal. Is that what you are wanting? Of, to help humans heal through specific interactions with horses? You do not need child psychology to help horses. In either case, you certainly do need to develop wisdom of horses; their minds, psychology, herd behaviors, emotional aspects, natural instincts of horses, training principles and methods (all gentle) and more.
What is sorely lacking in all work with horses, whether with humans or not, is real wisdom of horses. There are plenty of opinions, misconceptions, projection of human traits onto horses, outright bullshit, not to mention the myriads of people who have seen a natural horsemanship DVD or demo and think they are trainers. If you want to help horses heal, a veterinary degree would be super, along with superior wisdom of the mind and psychology of horses. You get wisdom of horse by being around them as much as possible for as long as possible. I am a professional horseman for 43 years and am still a student of the horse. Every horse has something to teach if you understand the 'language' and are willing to accept that the horse has something to teach you. Animal behaviorism is always a good topic. But this might be a bit broad. But I don't really know.
Several books to definitely get: Horse Sense and the Human Heart by McCormick, Walking The Way of the Horse by Hildebrand, Animals In Translation by Temple Grandin, Naked Liberty by Carolyn Resnick. I have a DVD called 'Training Through Trust' that explains the how and why of Equine Facilitated Learning and shows several actual sessions with learning disabled children. The books are available at Amazon and the DVD is available through my secure shopping corral. But again, you do not need to buy anything. But, you will need to spend some money sometime and these reference materials will be well worth it. You have the option of studying with me through a mentorship/apprenticeship program I offer through the organization I work with here on the Greek island of Corfu. The Silva Project is a volunteer based charity. Young people about your age come in for several weeks to several months to volunteer with the horses and equine assisted programs. They learn about horses, equine assisted therapies with various applications (mental and emotional disabilities, physical disabilities, social dysfunction, depression, on and on, including leadership/teambuilding). Volunteers work 6 hours per day, 6 days per week for room and board. Visit http://daveinpt.blogspot.com/ for a look around Corfu, The Silva Project Estate and more. The 'Project' was started by a very good friend of mine to save a rare breed of Greek small horse called a Skyrian. That has been accomplished. It has expanded into therapeutic horsemanship and straight out riding lessons. It is developing a new, large, equestrian/life enrichment center on Corfu. I am the director and proud to be. Completion will be this winter (winters are mild here). It will have Corfu's only covered arena and one of only several in all Greece. The riding programs will be expanded to offer all varieties of English and western riding, hay rides, trail rides and more. Programs in horse training (gentle), EFL, equine - nature experiences for families, kids, tourists, locals and all. It will be a very unique and wonderful facility and organization. Come and join us and enjoy a Greek island holiday at the same time.
Mentorships, etc. with me are not included in the volunteer program and there is a fee. However, adequate time for the mentoring program is built into the volunteer program so the time frames are reasonable and very 'doable' should you be interested.
Anyway, there is some food for thought. Visit the websites and let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for your email and I wish you the best of luck.