The Effects of Equine Assisted Learning on

Emotional Intelligence Competencies and Leadership Skills

Jade Rauen

Dr. Kelly L. Leigers, PhD, OTR/L, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Since the development and understanding of the term emotional intelligence (EI), researchers and businessmen alike have strived to find a way to improve EI competencies. Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) is a branch of Equine Therapy that uses the horse to facilitate change in humans. In recent years, EAL has been applied to the field of leadership development. Can a horse intrinsically instill competencies that effect leadership skills in humans? There is limited literature available on this subject, therefore, the aim of this study stood to add to the body of knowledge and advocate the need for future research. This study issued a questionnaire to 32 participants of an Equine Guided Leadership Education (EGLE) workshop coached by Lissa Pohl based out of Lexington, Kentucky whose agenda focused on EI concepts that build leadership skills. A thematic analysis of the responses was conducted. Results indicated that Equine-Assisted Learning may be an effective means of developing emotional intelligence competencies, specifically self-awareness and social-awareness, regardless of age, gender, or level of previous experience of the participant. However, since a comparison group was unavailable no direct conclusions can be drawn regarding its efficacy in comparison to a traditional classroom setting.

Keywords: equine-assisted learning, leadership development, emotional intelligence

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 12-10-2017


Kelly L. Leigers

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Department Name when Degree Awarded

Occupational Therapy

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)