Equine Connection: The Academy of Equine Assisted Learning

Contributed by Kari Fulmek, Equine Connection Equine Connection - The Academy of Equine Assisted Learning - is an Alberta-based company owned by myself, Kari Fulmek, horse lover, leader in the field of women’s skill development and a lifelong entrepreneur. The company offers unique learning experiences with horses that help our clients face challenges and build valuable life skills, develop confidence and self-esteem, and encourage them to set achievable goals. Equine assisted learning (EAL) is a learner based educational experience, building skills while working with horses, and has gained worldwide attention in the past few decades. It has proven to be an effective approach to human development that encourages individual and team growth, enhanced problem solving skills, and improved communication skills.

Horses teach through body language while the facilitators interpret the teaching, giving clarity and guidance to the participant leading to a solution to the initial problem. Working with horses creates memories that we apply to our lives and retain far longer than if merely sitting in a classroom and getting textbook jargon. Horses are non-judgmental and give honest and immediate feedback in any situation. This is possible because horses can magnify an individual’s problem immediately. They provide a skilled facilitator with an opportunity to identify a person’s character. Horses don’t overthink a person’s motive but challenge their behaviour and leadership, leading to greater resolution of issues and problems. Learning to listen to what horses have to say is powerful and can sometimes spur the answer to individual change. By including horses in specially designed educational exercises, equine-assisted facilitators have greatly multiplied the participant’s rate of success to self-discovery. Participants engage in objectively driven exercises and learn valuable life skills in a fun and safe atmosphere. No riding is involved; this is on-the-ground interaction.

EAL has proven to be effective, powerful, positive, educational, and creative. The Academy of Equine Assisted Learning’s program emphasizes its BuildingBlock™ curriculum with hands-on exercises that help clients develop a level of self-confidence, perhaps for the first time in their lives. Those moments can be extremely powerful in a person’s life as they turn an emotional corner, recognizing that they can overcome obstacles and find an easier path. This particular Equine Assisted Learning Building Block was the subject of an extensive research project by the universities of Calgary, Regina, and Saskatchewan, and is one of the only EAL courses that has a research piece connected to it. The study explored how First Nations youth who misuse solvents experience wellbeing based on their participation in the EAL program.

The results of their study were published in 2013 and showed a rich variety of positive encounters, both social and cultural, between troubled First Nations youth and horses. Patience, calmness and behaviour changes, reflected in changes in horses’ behaviour, as well as emerging relationship, leadership and problem-solving skills were highlight observations. In addition, with my associate Carolyn Charles, we offer a unique course to help others start their own EAL business in their geographical region. The course Building Block™ Certified Equine-Assisted Learning Program© provides instruction in how to offer the Building Block course at your own facility. Participants in the course not only expand their equine knowledge but gain insights into business marketability and earning potential. The Equine Assisted Learning Certification Course ensures the technical competence of trained professional facilitators. Certification exams go beyond training by providing an objective measurement of a facilitator's knowledge and skills. Registrants gain an insight into some of the applications of EAL such as anti-bullying programs, corporate team building, veterans programs, skill development, addiction recovery, women’s workshops, marriage challenges, and workplace skills development.

The cost of the course is $4,997 plus GST and that investment in yourself includes not only the program but business know-how, marketing, social media for promotion and advertising, and how to start off in the right direction to make your business a success. A payment plan is offered if needed after the initial deposit has been paid. The course includes not only the on-site instruction but take-away materials including checklists, marketing and promotion material, handouts, website content including professional videos, and tutorials. You might also like to consider hosting an EAL certification course. That way, we come to you and use your facilities and horses. You commit and then Equine Connection does all the rest to get the course full through their marketing, (a minimum of four, including yourself, to attend). The host receives a discount on the course fee. Equine Assisted Learning Building Block™ Course has helped many people all over the world do what they are called to do – help people to become all they can be, with horses as the teachers. We have facilitators in Ontario, PEI, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Yukon, Sidney Australia, Melbourne Australia, Townsville Australia, Queensland Australia, New Hampshire, Texas, and St. Louis who would be happy to talk to you about the Certification Course. For more information, visit