Frequently Asked Questions
Is this equine therapy?
No. At The Horse Institute, our mission is to offer unparalleled corporate leadership expertise and years of experience working with horses in a dynamic new teaching method -- one that engages participants in a more impactful, insightful and memorable way than the same old corporate training. We call our approach "Leadership Development Through Fresh Eyes."
What is the difference between Equine Assisted Learning and Equine Assisted Therapy?
According to the Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A), the objective of Equine Assisted Learning is to deliver workplace-related skills, knowledge and insight to corporate/company employees, teams or executives. The objective of Equine Assisted Therapy (or Counseling) is to relieve psychological pain and improve coping skills in individuals suffering from a physical injury or psychiatric diagnosis/problem. For more E3A information on Equine Experiential Education methods, click here.
Where can I learn more about Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)?
Visit the the Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) website at https://www.e3assoc.org
Why do you partner with horses, not dogs or other animals?
Horses are particularly adept at exposing realities and insights around human behavior in the areas of leadership, team functioning and effective communication for several reasons. As prey animals, horses are highly attuned to human intentions, energy and focus. They are masters at sensing "incongruence" -- when our internal thoughts and feelings do not match our outward behavior.
Because horses are herd animals, team dynamics and engagement are second nature to them. As non-verbal beings who live in the moment, horses respond in a way that is pure and direct -- innocently holding a mirror up to the strengths and gaps we often don't see in ourselves.
Finally, we find that the special nature and size of horses has a way of opening people up and drawing them in, which makes the The Horse Institute coaching experience that much more impactful and memorable.
What if I have never worked with horses?
No problem! The Horse Institute's equine faculty is chosen specifically for their ideal temperament and willingness to engage. Each workshop begins with a tutorial on safety around horses and how to communicate with horses. You'll be surprised at how quickly you start to build a relationship with these gentle giants!
What if I already have experience with horses?
Surprisingly enough, program participants who are familiar with horses are often the most surprised and delighted by engaging with horses this way. This engagement is not about riding or training horses. Rather, through The Horse Institute's equine assisted coaching, you gain insights about yourself -- strengths and areas of opportunity -- through the horses, other participants and the program facilitators. Even for experienced horse people, this is a "fresh eyes" experience!
Do I need to be fit or athletic to participate?
No. There is no horseback riding involved and any level of fitness is fine. If you can walk a half mile, you are fit enough to participate. If you have special needs, or prefer not to walk, you can still be an active team participant. Anyone can engage with and learn from horses in the programs designed by The Horse Institute.
Is it safe?
Safety always comes first at The Horse Institute. We carefully select horses for our equine faculty based on their ideal temperament and "people" skills. Our facility is maintained to rigorous safety standards. Each program begins with a tutorial on safety around horses, then constant monitoring and feedback is provided by qualified facilitators throughout the equine activities. We are proud of our safety record, and we make every effort to ensure that your equine assisted learning experience at The Horse Institute is as safe as it is inspiring!
What should I wear?
Your classroom is a covered arena (soft footing) and your teachers are horses, so wear casual clothes that are comfortable, allow movement and can get dirty; simple is best. Layers generally work best to accommodate weather shifts. Closed-toe shoes with socks are mandatory -- no sandals, no exceptions.
What about the weather?
Open enrollment Emerging Leaders Development and Next-Level Communication Skills workshops are held May-Oct; custom team building workshops can be scheduled any time of year. Spring-Fall in the Northeast can range from cool to very hot and rain is not uncommon. Workshops take place in covered spaces that are neither air conditioned nor heated, so dress appropriately for the weather.
What if I have allergies?
If you have known allergies, please consult with your healthcare professional for recommendations. We keep a clean environment, however it is a working farm with horses, dogs and cats, surrounded by unbounded nature.
Who handles catering?
We love good food and we are fortunate to be situated in the heart of the Hudson Valley, where local farm products and farm-to-table caterers are readily available. In fact, farms surrounding The Horse Institute supply many of New York City's finest restaurants. Local chefs trained in France and at the nearby Culinary Institute of America prepare the meals served on site. We offer several options of seasonal menus. Snacks and beverages are available all day. Please let us know if you have any food allergies.
What about lodging?
Overnight accommodations are just a few minutes drive from The Horse Institute at local inns in Pine Plains. Inn at Pine Plains (innatpineplains.com) is a favorite for individual or small group bookings; larger groups often choose to rent The Pines -- an eight bedroom, historic Victorian-era mansion -- and arrange catering to their liking. We're happy to help you choose the best accommodations for your needs.