Equine-Assisted Learning
Facilitator Training Certificate

Building Internal Resilience Through Horses

Discover horses as a source of learning and growth for you, your clients and your community.

Building Internal Resilience Through Horses (BIRTH) – a turn-key trauma-informed, evidence-based program – was developed to be shared.

Sharing it with you is our intent.

“Halifax Lancers’ Equine-Supported Wellness offering has been a powerful program. The horses have allowed people to learn important life lessons and skills. It has been wonderful to witness how meaningful the program has been in the lives of those who have gone through it.”  —  Shannon Johnson, PhD, Registered Psychologist, Associate Professor, Director of Clinical Training, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University and Participant, Building Internal Resilience Through Horses EAL Facilitator Certificate Training (2021)

Attention Mental Health and Equine Professionals:

This 4-day in-person certificate offering is intended to equip you with practical tools and support so you’ll have the necessary skills and knowledge to offer Building Internal Resilience Through Horses in your community.

Offering is limited to up to 8 participants – this is a small group, high-quality, experiential professional development opportunity. The Mane Intent is located east of Peterborough, approximately 90 minutes north-east of Toronto, Ontario.

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Why Building Internal Resilience Through Horses

Developed for young women 13-18 who have experienced trauma, Building Internal Resilience Through Horses is intended to increase participants’ awareness of the personal impact of stress and trauma, while building personal resilience.

Between Spring 2017 and Fall 2019, The Mane Intent, in partnership with Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, delivered this program to 12 groups of 83 young women.  Concluding in March, 2021, this research initiative, supported by Trent University, was originally funded by Public Health Agency of Canada.

Outcome measures showed significant improvements in participants’ resiliency indicators, including

  • increased emotional awareness and adaptability,
  • stronger sense of personal mastery, and
  • improved interpersonal and relational skills.

Many of these improvements were sustained over the long term at 1-month, 6-month, and for some core competencies even at 12-month follow-up, suggesting that the skills taught in the program are lasting and transferable.

Core BIRTH program curriculum includes:

  • Eight two hour Equine-Assisted Learning sessions, book-ended by optional expressive art sessions inviting greater self-awareness.
  • Three additional expressive arts booster sessions can also be delivered as wellness check-ins at different periods following the completion of the core program (1-month, 6-month, and 12-month).

High level BIRTH program aims include:

  • Understanding personal space and asserting healthy boundaries
  • Developing emotional self-awareness and self-regulation
  • Learning to set goals and make informed decisions and empowered choices
  • Developing positive body image, self-confidence, and self-compassion
  • Developing listening, communication and leadership skills
  • Developing personal grounding and mindfulness skills
  • Understanding the power of body language

Adaptable for other delivery formats (e.g. one-on-one sessions and 1 – 2 day workshops) All activities with the horses are ground-based. No riding and no previous horse experience is required.

Equine-Assisted Learning Facilitator Training Learning Objectives
  1. Describe how trauma and stress influences our nervous system, impacting our thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  2. Explain the benefits of working with horses in a therapeutic way to invite greater self-awareness and overall wellness
  3. Explain the Multi-factor/Multi-Level Model of Resilience
  4. Utilize at least 8 equine-assisted strengths-based learning interventions designed to foster a greater sense of mastery, improve a personal sense of relatedness, and enhance emotional regulation
  5. Utilize at least 5 expressive arts interventions to invite greater self-awareness and creative expression
  6. Use at least 5 interventions to invite mindfulness and enhanced personal presence, while helping to decrease hypervigilance and anxiety
  7. Design and delivery a group workshop using a trauma- and violence-informed practice
Upcoming Sessions: 2024
  • Friday, April 19, 2024 – Monday, April 22, 2024 (4 days) at The Mane Intent – 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  facilitated by Jennifer Garland, RP, Owner/Program Director, The Mane Intent, 2410 Cameron Line, Indian River, ON

Complete the Expression of Interest Form below to indicate your interest in being a candidate for the 2024 training sessions. 

In this 4-day in-person certificate offering, you will receive:

1) Theory-based lessons and lecture content in a classroom setting to teach you how to incorporate Equine-Assisted Learning and BIRTH programming into your mental health and wellness practice, covering the following topics:

  • Overview on the benefits of working with horses in a therapeutic manner, including an overview of horse language/behaviour
  • The neuroscience of trauma, human brains and horse brains and how each influences how we experience the world
  • The Polyvagal Theory and Window of Tolerance: Implications for horsemanship and equine-facilitated learning
  • Equine-facilitated learning versus equine-psychotherapy (understanding scope of practice)
  • The Multi-factor/Multi-level Model of Resilience used in Building Internal Resilience Through Horses
  • Trauma- and Violence-Informed practice and implications for equine-assisted learning
  • Mindfulness and Grounding activities
  • Facilitating experiential learning and tools to enhance group facilitation skills
  • Up to 8 Core BIRTH Program Modules and learning goals
  • Overview of BIRTH program research and program measurement outcomes
  • EAL program delivery practical considerations
  • Tips and tools for facilitating groups
  • Participant screening and recruitment considerations – working with vulnerable populations

2) Practical hands-on experiential learning of your new skills including:

  • Getting to know our gentle, relaxed mixed herd of equines, full of character, heart and spirit.
  • Working together with our herd, while receiving hands-on experience with up to 8 equine-assisted learning sessions defining the core curriculum for Building Internal Resilience Through Horses
  • Engaging in expressive and creative arts activities that support the program and inviting your own greater self-awareness
  • How to work with horses in a group setting, while understanding herd dynamics and horse behaviour
  • Planning and delivering your own workshop

3) All program materials and handouts needed to start your own Equine-Assisted Learning Practice and to offer Building Internal Resilience through Horses programming:

  • A print and .pdf copy of Building Internal Resilience Manual, a full-colour 139 page manual representing the culmination of the 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 the Public Health Agency of Canada. The manual is a comprehensive overview of the 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 including templates that support program.

4)  An opportunity to enjoy your own unique personal and professional learning journey cradled in the serene beauty of scenic barns and outbuildings, rolling pastures, a walled garden, colourful perennial gardens, peaceful woodland trails and a tranquil meditation stone labyrinth.

5) Access to all that Peterborough and the Kawathas has to offer. The Mane Intent is located just outside Peterborough, approx. 90 minutes north east of Toronto. If you love the outdoors, the area boasts deep forests, open fields, plentiful waters and wilderness areas that make this a nature lovers paradise. Learn more here  or pamper yourself with a stay at Elmhirst’s Resort, just 15 minutes from our farm.

6) Access to Program Founder Jennifer Garland for follow-up coaching and support (for an additional fee). Learn more about Jennifer here.

7) Access to The Mane Intent’s on-line Facebook community and option to join an on-going monthly membership program with self-paced learning modules to support your professional and personal growth.

Who Should Attend:

  • As this program is intended for use by a team consisting of a mental health professional and a certified equine program facilitator — this training is for therapists, social workers, caregivers, clinical psychologists, counsellors, teachers and horse professionals working with therapists or mental health professionals, who want to offer Building Internal Resilience Through Horses in your community.
  • Must perform within your scope of practice
  • Have a minimum of two years of equine experience that can include owning horses, riding lessons, instructing and/or training. Ideally, learners own their own equine(s) or have routine access to a specific equine in order to practice sessions**
  • Have an interest in launching, supporting and/or building an Equine-Assisted Learning practice in your community
  • Participants must be 18 years of age or older.
  • All mental health professional applicants must have one of the following:
    • Minimum college-level education and training with a diploma in same.
    • Degree in mental health field or include mental health as a scope of practice

** If the applicant does not have this direct experience with horses, we can offer on-site training in horsemanship – contact us for more information.

Jennifer Garland, Lead Facilitator

Jennifer Garland, Registered Psychotherapist has more than 30 years of Combined Equine-Assisted Learning, Community Programming and Business Experience.


Jennifer Garland is a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and the Owner/Program Director for The Mane Intent Inc. In 2014, Jennifer founded this certified equine facility located in Indian River, Ontario offering equine-assisted psychotherapy, psychotherapy, health and wellness workshops, individual and team effectiveness coaching and leadership development.

Our equine programming is informed by the FEEL™ approach, EQUSOMA™ – Somatic Experiencing® Skills for Equine-Facilitated Practitioners, Connection-Focused Therapy and Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship training in Trauma-Focused Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Somatic Experiencing® Professional Training (Intermediate), and the work of Paula Josa-Jones, SEP Practitioner and Author, Our Horses, Our Selves.

Jennifer was the overall project manager, Equine-Assisted Learning Supervisor and Facilitator for the Building Internal Resilience Through Horses project. Jennifer has a Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology to complement her certificate in Trauma Counselling from the University of Toronto.

Jennifer previously served as President of The Cactus Group, a management and communications consulting business she established in 1997. To her equine and therapy services, she brings over 30 years of leadership experience in communications, community investment, marketing and change management supporting a variety of clients in corporate and non-profit sectors. She has provided counsel and support to senior leaders from all walks of life to create opportunities to build productive relationships, facilitate learning and to embrace change. Learn more about Jennifer’s corporate experience, lectures, awards and publications here.

Jennifer works with a team of mental health and EAL professionals to support the delivery of the EAL Facilitator Training Program.


Program Tuition

Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator Certification

  • $4,500 + HST per person (including all meals, snacks, refreshments and workshop materials)
  • Applicants must be approved before registering
  • 4-day Theoretical and Practical Training
  • 50% to reserve spot; 50% on due date
  • Includes $500 non-refundable admin fee
  • 120+ days before date = 100% refunded (-$500)
  • 91-120 days before date = 50% refundable (-$500)
  • 90 days or less before date = not refundable

Please note that COVID Safety Protocols are followed at The Mane Intent and the training is subject to Public Health Guidelines. We will reschedule if Public Health Guidelines impact the delivery of in-person training.

Inviting Your Expression of Interest

Please fill out our information form and share your intent to learn more about Building Internal Resilience Through Horses.

“[Today] I learned that it’s okay to let your emotions go and I learned how to connect even without words.” – Building Internal Resilience Through Horses, Group 3 Participant

More About Building Internal Resilience Though Horses

This Equine-Assisted Learning Facilitator Training Certificate is informed by the foundational work of Building Internal Resilience Through Horses. This is a trauma- and violence-informed community- and evidence-based program originally developed through a partnership between the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, Trent University’s Emotion and Health Research Laboratory, and The Mane Intent, and a funding investment from Public Health Agency of Canada’s Supporting the Health of Survivors of Family Violence.

This research-driven, community-based initiative was founded on the expectation that hands-on equine-assisted learning programming, combined with trauma-informed psychoeducation, would help enhance participants’ internal resiliency resources, which would in turn contribute to their improved mental health outcomes and reduced risk of harm in the future.

Between Spring 2017 and Fall 2019, the program was delivered to 12 groups of 83 young women and this research initiative concluded in March, 2021. Outcome measures showed significant improvements in participants’ resiliency indicators, including increased emotional awareness and adaptability, stronger sense of personal mastery, and improved interpersonal and relational skills. Many of these improvements were sustained over the long term at 1-month, 6-month, and for some core competencies even at 12-month follow-up, suggesting that the skills taught in the program are lasting and transferable.

For more information, go here.


cover of manual

Download the Building Internal Resilience Through Horses manual – a free community resource and guide for therapists, social workers, and equine program facilitators offering skills-based equine-assisted learning.