The Quick Answer
Most certification bodies in the Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy fields have an internship/ practicum requirement and I am approached by far more people who would like to volunteer at Healing Hooves than I can find work for.
So, is it the old, ‘I need the experience to be certified, but I need to be certified to get someone to hire me?’
It doesn’t have to be.
Some ideas for getting work experience in Equine and/ or Animal Assisted Therapy include:
- Programs that offer school groups often look for volunteers who have some training in EFW.
- Ask your EFW/ AAT trainer; they may have opportunities within their program and/ or have past graduates who are looking for volunteers or staff within their programs.
- Once you are part way through your training you may be able to volunteer as an assistant on a training you have already completed. EFW Canada allow you to gain 20 of your 85 internship hours this way.
- Some programs (including EFW Canada) allow certification candidates to gain some of their internship hours facilitating practice sessions with each other. EFW Canada allow you to gain 15 of your 85 internship hours this way.
- If you have a client base, horses, facility, insurance and adequate supervision you can start working with ‘real’ clients during/ as a part of your internship, and be paid for this work.
- Join a social media group for people practicing EFW and offer your services. All Healing Hooves trainees and graduates are invited to join our facebook group where you are welcome to post opportunities and requests re EFW and AAT work opportunities.
- Make sure that all of the above is completed with both insurance and supervision in place!
The Longer Answer
Most certifying bodies require you to both meet a minimum hours requirement in your pre-existing field for your area of certification (for example, equine experience) plus an internship/ practicum requirement where you need to gain some EFW practice hours, usually while working under the supervision of a certified EFW mentor.
Internship Requirements and Options
Your 85 practice hours can be met in several ways:
Start or Extend you own Practice
Volunteer with an Existing Program
If you gain your experience this way it may also include some free training and supervision.
Finding Work Experience Opportunities
Pre Existing Areas of Experience
- Volunteering at a therapeutic riding program;
- Volunteering at a horse rescue program;
- Taking riding and/ or horsemanship lessons with a certified equine professional;
- Attend pony club/ 4H sessions/ riding lessons with your child;
- Attending or auditing horsemanship clinics;
- Volunteering at a horse camp.
- Volunteering on a crisis help line;
- Taking a college or high school level communications course;
- Volunteering at a summer camp program;
- Volunteering at a therapeutic riding program.
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What about you? If you have any questions or suggestions about how and where to get experience in the Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy fields please share them in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!