Training specialists for the preparation of therapy horses for Equine Facilitated Therapies and
Project Reference: 2020-1-CZ01-KA204-078277
A group of 29 experts from six European countries are connected to work on a common goal, to create an assessment tool for the therapy equines.
Coordinated by the CEFTA (The Czech Equine Facilitated Therapy Association) and from Věra Lantelme-Faisan and Vladimíra Casková as Physiotherapists specialized in Equine Facilitated Therapy created a European project to train specialists for horse preparation in equine facilitated therapy. They connected with Turkey, Lithuania, Portugal, Finland and Spain. The partners in the project are. Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University (Turkey), Horse Riding Association of People with Disabilities (Lithuania), The Kids Fellows Research Group (Portugal), The Finnish Association of Equine Facilitated Therapies (Finland) and Proyecto Caballo Association.
Until 2023 these groups of professionals from the Equine Facilitated Therapies and Learning fields will collaborate, unite and share experiences in order to develop an assessment tool to observe and learn horse preparation in Equine Facilitated Activities and Therapies. Moreover, this project also intends to increase the understanding of the different curricula across Europe and linking a common framework across Europe.
Our kick-off meeting was held online in October 2020. The purpose of the meeting was to know each member of the project and to go over the task distribution and meeting topics that were written in the project application. All members submitted their detailed CV to introduce themselves to others.
The second ZOOM meeting took place in February 2021, where we planned our May meeting in Spain.
Vilademuls, Spain - 26 to 28 May, 2021
Our first face to face meeting was held in Spain in May 2021, from 26 to 28 in Vilademuls, a small countryside village with 40 equine partners near Girona (North East region of Spain). The pillars of the meeting were: Animal sentience, Equine Quality of Life, Equine body language and Equine indicators of and wellbeing proposed by Proyecto Caballo (Five freedoms plus the presence of positive welfare indicators: health, comfort and happiness). Unfortunately, the Turkish team could not arrive due to epidemiologic travel restrictions. The Finnish team was represented by one member on site for the same reason. All of them could join the meeting online, it was complicated, but we did our best. (All other team members took part in the meeting online as well as possible).
Královický dvůr, Czech Republic - 6 to 8 September, 2021
Our Second meeting occurred at Jezdecké Centrum Královický Dvůr, a Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic (6-9 September). This time all teams were present, and we could enjoy company and exchange of experience and knowledge face to face. We discovered and explored the different national breeds involved in Equine Facilitated Interventions (EFI) in each country. The Czech team demonstrated their view on Equine Facilitated Physiotherapy,- Learning and Paravoulting. The goal was to highlight the demands, way of handling and care of therapy equines.
Intellectual outputs working groups
Equine Facilitated Psychiatry and Psychology - Portugal, Spain & Czech Republic
Equine Facilitated Learning and Social Care - Czech Republic, Spain and Turkey
Equine Facilitated Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy - Czech Republic, Lithuania and Finland
Adaptive riding - Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, and Finland
Nevsehir, Türkiye - 12 to 15 June 2022
The Turkish partner organised the 3rd educational meeting in the beautiful Cappadocia region from 12 to 15 June 2022. All 6 teams met in the whole number, so we could commence working on our primary project outcome. We divided into four groups focusing on therapy equine demands in therapy sessions, training, and selection.
- Equine Facilitated Physiotherapy, Occupational and Speech Therapy group (EFPT, OT and ST)
- Equine Facilitated Psychology (EFP)
- Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL)
- Adaptive riding
It was a great experience and opportunity to listen to other opinions and views on these topics and find a common link. All members enjoyed the work, listened to and heard patiently to each other and sought conclusions. It was a unique experience.
We visited the EAS centre within the University premises, saw an adaptive riding lesson, and observed the University laboratory, a Police training centre for horses and dogs and a Mental home for women, clients of the Turkish partner. The meeting had a great spirit; we enjoyed being together and sharing our work and friendship.
Kurtuvėnai, Lithuania - 6 to 9 September 2022
This time we visited Lithuania. All members (24) from 6 countries were present. On Wednesday, we started the program with a guide to the history of the Kurtuvėnai manor, after which the work took place in the premises of the manor's tourist center.
In the workshop, we continued the work started in Turkey in four groups. We defined common core elements of working with and training equines, as well as the skills required of equine trainers and handlers in various therapies and equine-assisted activities. Each country also got to briefly present their own practices from equine training for EAS (equine assisted services).
On Wednesday afternoon, we went to the zoology unit of Šiauliai University. We got to know the different laboratories where they work with animal nutrition, breeding and the gene bank program for national breeds. We were also shown the national pony breed Zemaituka of Lithuania and is also popular in EAS.
On Thursday morning, we visited Kurtuvėnai, a horse stable owned by the Lithuanian state, where one of the organizers, a Lithuanian physiotherapist, offers EAS. There we followed two different work situations with two different horses, as well as the running techniques they used. Work demonstrations included using a lift with a therapy client and a horse, as well as adapted riding lesson.
We had time for leisure and to know the Lithuanian culture – horseback riding, walking tour, traditional dance and food.
Santarém, Portugal - 11 to 14 October 2022
On October 11 – 14, 2022, the meeting was held in Portugal, in the city of Santarém. Our program was complete, with information and discussions within the workshops on individual EAS fields and demonstrations prepared by the Portuguese team. Within the workshops, 4 groups worked on creating key questions in preparing equines for EAS and how to evaluate them. Members discussed the key issues for a long time and thus tried to prepare the maximum amount of materials to create standards. In the next part, each country presented a video demonstrating client interactions with equines as part of EAS lessons.
There was also a lecture on the native Portuguese Sorraia breed, who later presented themselves in practical demonstrations under saddle in the EFL. The Sorraia breed was also presented in a carousel performed by students from the Santarém High School of Agriculture, where the meeting took place. The Special Olympics demonstration was fascinating - a trail and dressage task performed by three competitors who regularly participate at the international level. An utterly breathtaking experience was the presentation of para-dressage at the international level by Ana Mota e Veiga and Pedro Félix and his Lusitano, who also demonstrated elements of a higher dressage level. Much credit for his flawless presentation goes to his trainer Francisco Cancela de Abreu, one of the best dressage trainers in Portugal.
The Erasmus+ project is not only focused on a targeted work result. It also includes getting to know individual cultures and countries, improving language skills and creating new friendships between meeting participants. It is also essential to exchange opinions and discuss different views on the given topic based on the differences between countries and their culture. The Portuguese team ultimately fulfilled the mission of getting to know the country's culture and traditions. We stayed in a beautiful Portuguese-style complex, tasted typical cuisine, and listened to traditional Fado music. We couldn't miss the public training at the Portuguese Riding School with Lusitano horses and a visit to Quinta de Lagoalva – an estate dealing with traditional agricultural production and breeding of the Lusitano.
The following meetings are scheduled in May 2023 Finland and the June 2023 Czech Republic by the host partners.