Building Internal Resilience Through Horses Manual Now Available

New Manual Outlining Trauma-Informed, Evidence-based Program Now Available for Communities Across Canada and Beyond

Building Internal Resilience Through Horses Program Delivery Manual is now available for therapists, social workers, and equine program facilitators offering skill-based equine-assisted learning. This manual represents the culmination of a four-year research project led by Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre with The Mane Intent Inc. and Trent University as program partners and with funding provided by Public Health Agency of Canada. 

A new community resource available for download.“We are so excited to celebrate the completion of the Building Internal Resilience Through Horses research program through the launch of our Manual for Equine- Assisted Learning and Trauma Counselling professionals. This program inspired resilience in so many young people who have experienced early interpersonal trauma and we are encouraged in sharing our research results and program outline for the benefit of other communities. We want to thank the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Knowledge Hub at Western University for their mentorship and collaboration in this local project,” says Lisa Clarke, Executive Director, Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre.

Research results to date, based on 12 groups of over 80 participants who participated in the program from 2017 to 2019, suggest that Building Internal Resilience Through Horses is a promising approach to building core resilience-related competencies following trauma.

“At Trent University’s Emotion and Health Research Laboratory, we are committed to translating our research into practice through the development of services and resources to enhance mental health and resilience among children and youth. We are grateful for the work of our team of Graduate Research Assistants who supported this research initiative. Equine-assisted learning is a promising and unique pathway for health promotion and resilience- building. We value the opportunity to have worked with Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre and The Mane Intent to bring this program to our community and to strengthen its scientific evidence base, so that it can be sustained long term and disseminated through the use of this manual.,” says Dr. Kateryna Keefer, Assistant Professor, Teaching Intensive, Department of Psychology, Trent University.

Building Internal Resilience Through Horses is developed with an explicit focus on building resilience following trauma. This innovative trauma and violence-informed community-based program has been offered to young women (aged 13 to 18 years) living with interpersonal trauma – e.g., who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence, or may be experiencing intimate partner violence, or have experienced child maltreatment. The program is delivered in a small-group format and includes eight weekly equine-assisted learning (EAL) sessions supplemented with five trauma psychoeducation and expressive arts workshops.

This initiative is founded on the expectation that the hands-on EAL experience, combined with expressive arts and trauma-informed psychoeducation, helps young women reduce post-traumatic symptoms, improve mental health, enhance personal coping skills and resiliency resources, while reducing their risk of harm in the future.

The manual is a comprehensive overview of the initial program and intervention research, including program approaches, modalities and principles; detailed session designs for the core program curriculum; program delivery practical considerations, participant screening and recruitment recommendations; and supporting resource material.

During the 8-week EAL module, participants engage in a variety of facilitator-guided ground work exercises in partnership with the horse(s) designed to help them increase awareness of, and develop new interpersonal and communication behaviours. The ways in which the horses react to communication, behaviour, and body language provide an opportunity for self-reflection, self-discovery, and shared discussions to identify opportunities for leadership and personal development.

“This manual is a wonderfully comprehensive, evidence-based resource for equine-assisted learning and mental health professionals with an interest in strengths-based and trauma-informed programming for their clients and communities. It’s been tremendously rewarding to be a witness to the personal growth and empowerment of young women who’ve participated in Building Internal Resilience Through Horses. We were honoured to work together with Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre and Trent University as program delivery and project partners. We thank the Public Health Agency of Canada for their significant investment in our community. We’re particularly grateful for our delivery team of professionals whose experience and expertise contributed to program development and delivery. We especially wish to acknowledge our herd of horses who are exceptional teachers, inviting participants to learn life and coping skills that are lasting and transferable,” says Jennifer Garland, Owner/Program Director, The Mane Intent Inc.  

A complimentary copy of the manual is available for download at and a print copy of the manual is available through order and a small fee at KSAC by contacting  A French version of the manual will be available in the future.

Funding for the Building Internal Resilience Through Horses project also supported the development of a community resource web site, a variety of community education events and a national Inviting Resilience conference hosted in 2019 at Trent University to build community capacity for resilience against the pervasive effects of violence and personal trauma. This project was possible thanks to a successful application in 2016 to receive funding as part of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Innovation Strategy supporting the Health of Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse through Community Programs. KSAC was one of over 150 agencies from across Canada to apply for the funding and one of 20 organizations to successfully receive funding.


Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, The Mane Intent, & Trent Emotion and Health Research Laboratory. (2020). Building Internal Resilience Through Horses program manual. Peterborough, ON: Authors. Retrieved from

About the Author

Jennifer Garland is the founder of The Mane Intent Inc. offering equine-assisted learning programs including Health and Wellness Workshops, Individual and Team Effectiveness Coaching and Leadership Development. Jennifer provides coaching, counsel and support to individuals and groups  from all walks of life to create opportunities to build productive relationships, facilitate learning and to embrace change.  Learn more about Jennifer’s professional experience, lectures, awards and publications here.

For more information or to book a private virtual session with Jennifer, please call 705-295-6618 or email

The Mane Intent

August 12, 2020

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