The EAGALA Model

The EAGALA Model

EAGALA Certified

The Equine Therapy Group follows the EAGALA model and its equine specialist is EAGALA certified.

The EAGALA Focus:

The EAGALA Model provides a standard and structure for providing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning sessions. Practicing within a model establishes a foundation of key values and beliefs, and provides a basis of good practice and professionalism. The EAGALA Model provides a framework of practice, but within that framework, there are infinite opportunities for creativity and adaptability to various therapeutic and facilitating styles.

The EAGALA Model

The Team Approach

An Equine Specialist, a mental halth professional, and horses work together with clients in all EAGALA sessions.

Focus on the ground

All EAGALA sessions are on the ground with horses (no mounted work)


The belief that our clients have the best solutions for themselves forms a foundation for the EAGALA approach. Rather than instructing or directing solutions, we allow our clients to experiment, problem-solve, take risks, employ creativity, and find their own solutions that work best for them.

Code of Ethics

EAGALA has a code of ethics, and has a standard of professionalism and ethics.


The Horse

Horses have many characteristics which lend them to being effective agents of change, including honesty, awareness, and ability with nonverbal communication. The role of the horses in an EAGALA session is to be themselves.

The Equine Specialist (ES)

The ES chooses the horses to be used in sessions, works with the MHP to develop activities, keeps an equine log to document horse behaviors in sessions, stays aware of safety and welfare of clients, horses, and team, and makes observations of horse SPUD’s (an EAGALA-developed observation framework taught in the certification training program) which can bring in potential metaphors.

The Mental Health Professional (MH)

The MH is responsible for treatment planning, documentation of clients, and ensuring ethical practice. The MH builds on the ES’s horse observations, bringing in the metaphoric and therapeutic/learning relevance of the session

Why horses?

Like people, horses are herd-oriented (relationships) and have distinct roles within that herd. Horses are also prey animals and are distinctly aware of their surroundings. It is this characteristic that keeps them safe, helps them interact with other horses, and causes them to be excellent co-therapists. The majority of human interaction is non-verbal. Horses read this 93% of human behavior with impeccable accuracy. Most importantly, horses live in a behavior-based society.

A horse’s entire perception of a person is behavior-based. Words are not important to the horse but only the person’s body language, methods of coping, and approach. Working with horses brings the client into this behavior-based society and subsequently transfers over into other areas of the client’s life. The nature of the horse and its ability to experience a wide range of human emotions creates an instant horse/human connection and the opportunity for life-changing metaphor.

Imagine the consequences of a client recognizing and implementing a behavior-based approach to life…

  • What if your family’s perception of you was entirely behavior-based?
  • What if your spouse’s perception of you was entirely behavior-based?
  • Would my spouse know I love them based just on my behavior?
  • Would my children?

The nature of horse/human interaction requires that a person evaluate their own behavior and choose behaviors that produce the wanted responses from the horse. This interaction empowers clients to quickly learn the powerful principle that “in changing myself I can change and improve my environment.”

Next: “Benefits of Equine Assisted Psycotherapy”