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EAGALA Therapy Programme

Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA)

Equine assisted therapy (EAGALA) is an internationally recognised form of professional counselling that helps clients of all ages address behavioural, emotional and relational issues by using horses as an intervention tool.


The EAGALA Equine Assisted Therapeutic Programme focuses on youth, individuals, families, couples and corporate groups is run out of RDA using our facilities and horses.  It is run by both a qualified Mental Health Professional and an Equine Specialist.  In addition, both are trained and certified by EAGALA.

The Equine Specialist (ES) chooses the horses experientially for emotional growth and learning. It is a collaborative effort between registered counsellor/psychologist/social worker and a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address treatment goals. It provides an intensive and effective therapeutic benefit because it utilises horses, dynamic and powerful living beings. Participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviours, and patterns. This approach has been compared to the ropes courses used by therapists, treatment facilities, and human development courses around the world.

Our EAGALA programme also offers Equine Assisted Learning Programmes whose focus is on learning and educational gaols where participants learn specific skills as defined by the individual or group. We have worked with a number of Porirua schools offering Confidence Building Courses, Empathy Enhancement Courses and Behavioural Courses - all of which have been very successful and helped children and young people develop important life skills.

The focus of Equine Assisted Therapy is not riding or horsemanship.  The focus involves setting up ground activities which will require the client or group to apply certain skills. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem-solving, leadership, work, taking responsibility, teamwork and relationships, confidence, and attitude are several examples of the tools utilized and developed.

This EAGALA programme addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs including self-esteem, behavioural issues, relapse prevention, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, family dynamics, trauma, abuse, anger management, conflict resolution, personal development and other mental health and behavioural needs. It also addresses educational objectives such as working with business groups and leaders, schools, and other groups and individuals with growth and learning needs. 


The Horse - horses have many characteristics which lend them to being effective agents of change, including honesty, awareness, and ability with nonverbal communication.  The role of the horses in session is to be themselves.

The Equine Specialist chooses the horses to be used in sessions, works with the Mental Health Professional (MH) to develop activities, keeps an equine log to document horse behaviours in sessions, stays aware of safety and welfare of clients, horses, and team, and makes observations of horse behaviours which can bring in potential metaphors.

The MH is responsible for treatment planning, documentation of clients, and ensuring ethical practice.  The MH builds on the ES’s horse observations, bringing in the metaphoric and therapeutic/learning relevance of the session.



EAGALA Testimonials

“I strongly recommend EAGALA to anyone, no matter how much of a novice to therapy they are or how many therapies they’ve tried previously. It is an experience like no other and a long-lasting one at that."

“The students we chose were lacking in confidence and reluctant to participate in activities. The change in their self-esteem as the programme progressed was remarkable.”



For more information please contact Wellington Riding for the Disabled Association Inc.

Phone (04) 237 5550 or email

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