EQUUS Foundation Horse-Human Bond

Equine Experiential Learning Initiative

Ensuring a sustainable environment for America's horses now and in the future

Based on current demographic and economic trends in the United States, the long-term future and welfare of horses could be in jeopardy. Public access and involvement with horses, especially among young people, declining. The expense and time required for competition is becoming unrealistic for most people.

326 million
Population of the United States
294 million of the U.S. population live
in cities of 50,000 or more
2 million of the U.S. population
owns horses

An updated human-horse model, based on different collaborative relationships between horses and humans, offers a more realistic plan for access to horses by people unable to experience the magic of horses through the traditional means of ownership and competition. For horses to remain an important part of American life and have a viable future, a paradigm shift in the perception of how horses partner with people will be required.

The overarching intent of the Equine Experiential Learning Initiative is to stimulate volunteerism, cultivate advocacy on behalf of horses and inspire a lifelong commitment to horse welfare.

Today, the benefits of the horse-human bond are becoming more apparent. Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) offer the best model of a modern human-horse interaction, with horses helping humans in new innovative ways. This type of human-animal experience may be more appealing, and certainly more realistic, for many of today's urban and suburban youth.

Young people today care about social issues, perform community service and want to give back. It has long been recognized that people who participate in meaningful, impactful activities often become deeply committed to lifelong support of that activity or cause.

The Equine Experiential Learning Initiative consists of an online course of study, on-site educational sessions guided by mentors, hands-on involvement in the participating organization's EAAT programs, and online follow-up.

Through on-line education and hands-on real-life interactions with horses, the Equine Experiential Learning Initiative is uniquely designed to:

• Provide meaningful community service and
equine experiential learning for teens
and adults;

• Highlight the importance of equines
historically and in modern society;

• Foster a deep understanding of the vital role
of horses now and in the future.

Engaging people to witness the impact of horses to empower, teach and heal will enlarge the base of equine advocates and raise awareness of the new and important role of horses. The future of horses is in the hands of their advocates, and we need advocates to help ensure the welfare of horses for decades to come.

Horses & Humans Grants
In Honor of Leonard I. Gilman

The EQUUS Foundation would like to express its appreciation to Dr. Terri Champney for developing the Equine Experiential Learning Initiative and administering the Leonard I. Gilman Horses & Humans Grant awarded to organizations selected to conduct the program.

Dr. Champney will serve as the coordinator and work directly with the participating organizations by:

• Assisting with implementation of all phases
of the program;

• Providing a detailed "tool kit" for the
implementation, including suggestions for
scheduling, orientation, training, awards;

• Monitoring the online educational

• Providing a tool/questionnaire to measure
the effectiveness of the program, including
recommendations to improve the program.

For the inaugural year, the EQUUS Foundation will invite organizations to participate that meet the funding guidelines outlined below here. The selected organizations will each receive a grant of up to $3,500. The selected organizations will be responsible for enlisting the volunteer support of at least three and up to five new volunteers and designating personnel with expertise to teach the on-site sessions and serve as mentors to the volunteers, and participating in the program follow-up.

The participating volunteers will be responsible for completing the online course of study, on-site sessions, hands-on interaction with horses, and online follow up.

In addition to the grant award, at the conclusion of the program, the participating volunteers and mentors will have the opportunity to select a client of the organization to receive a scholarship to help underwrite the cost of three sessions provided to the client.

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About Dr. Champney

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About Dr. Terri Champney

Dr. Champney graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University. She practiced equine and small animal medicine in California and Michigan before moving to Virginia where she worked in small animal medicine full time for several years.

Dr. Champney is a retired professor and Program Head of Veterinary Technology at Northern Virginia Community College. While at the college she established the first program between a county animal shelter and a veterinary teaching program. The model program was recognized by the organization, Veterinarians for Animal Rights, as a unique effort to benefit both animals and students.

She initiated educational innovations in the veterinary technology classroom including the development and implementation of one of the first American Veterinary Medical Association accredited Veterinary Technology Online programs in the US. She received a student award as Faculty of the Year.

Terri volunteered with the P.A.L. (People Animals Love) program of Washington D.C. and taught animal care classes to prison inmates. The program goal was providing skills needed for employment after inmates left incarceration. She volunteered with Fairfax Pets on Wheels (FPOW) assisting with the administration of the programs, co-coordinating volunteers, pet visits to nursing homes and received the “Mary Latshaw” award for her work at FPOW.

Dr. Champney is a co-founder of Dominion Equine Welfare (formerly Virginia Equine Welfare Group), a 501c3 organization devoted to the humane care of horses. She authored a paper/presentation, “Turning the Table” for the 2013 International Equine Conference, Lexington, Kentucky.

When Dr. Champney was eight years old Tubby her first equine “mentor” taught her to ride among many other valuable lessons. Since then she has been involved with different breeds and activities.

Dr. Champney has used her teaching, curriculum development and online course development experience to create the Equine Experiential Learning Initiative.

Dr. Terri Champney
Dr. Champney & Dicha

Funding Guidelines

Only those organizations that have received the EQUUS Foundation Guardian designation and conduct Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) in accordance with the EQUUS Foundation Guidelines on Qualifications of Organizations Conducting Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) are eligible to apply.

The Guardian organizations must meet the following additional criteria:
• Designate personnel with expertise in community outreach to enlist the volunteer support of the participating volunteers; the participating volunteer must be at least 16 years old;
• Designate personnel for volunteer management;
• Designate personnel with expertise to teach on-site sessions and serve as mentors; mentors will be required to complete the online course of study;
• Provide facilities at which to conduct on-site sessions and hands-on interactions with horses.


• The application will be available online to Guardian charities starting on January 1.
• The deadline is April 30.
• On or before August 31: Recipients will be selected.
• Between September 1 and September 30: Recipients will be notified by email and financial support will be disbursed.
• On or before May 31 of the following year: Recipients will conclude the program and report back to the EQUUS Foundation with results.


Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT): Any activity that incorporates equine interactions and/or the equine environment, mounted or ground-based, including horsemanship instruction adapted to the ability/disability of those receiving services aimed at contributing positively to their cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being, psychotherapy and/or mental health counseling aimed at achieving goals set forth by the mental health professional and the client, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology treatment strategies that utilize equine movement, and experiential learning approaches that promote the development of life skills to achieve educational, professional and personal goals.

Special Needs: Any difficulty or difficulties (such as a physical, emotional, behavioral, or cognitive disability or impairment) that require or benefit from instructors, specialists, counselors, trainers and/or facilitators who have certified training for their scope of practice applicable to the people participating in the programs and specific to the program offerings. The difficulty may not be limited to a health issue but may result from the interaction between the individual and the society in which he or she lives arising from an abusive or unhealthy environment or situation and/or a lack of resources, including economic resources, placing them at risk of a future with less than optimal outcomes.

At-Risk: Refers to being at-risk of a future with less than optimal outcomes. Youth are considered at-risk for a number of reasons, such as if they are homeless or transient, involved in drugs or alcohol, abused sexually, physically or emotionally, mentally ill, neglected at home or live in stressful family environments, lacking social or emotional supports, and involved with delinquent peers. At-Risk youth are likely to be involved in a number of risky behaviors, such as running away, skipping school, drinking underage, engaging in sexual behavior, displaying disruptive behavior, bullying/harassment, fighting, and committing acts of vandalism.


I. By submitting information to the EQUUS Foundation, your organization is granting permission to the EQUUS Foundation to ask people to review the information and to give advice and information to the Foundation about your organization, board, staff, and others with whom you are affiliated.
II. Materials submitted to the EQUUS Foundation as part of the process become the property of the Foundation and will not be returned. The materials will be used as the Foundation deems appropriate. They are not subject to any right of confidentiality unless specifically agreed to in writing by the EQUUS Foundation.
III. The EQUUS Foundation is under no obligation to fund or otherwise have a future relationship with any organization.
IV. The Guidelines contained herein are subject to change without notice.

Guidelines last updated 12/3/2018  Back To Top