Prevalence of Coursework in Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies at Universities and Colleges in the United States: A Scoping Review

Nina Ekholm Fry, Emily Meszaros, Katie O’Neill
Institute for Human-Animal Connection, University of Denver

An increasing number of universities and colleges in the United States are offering coursework related to equine-assisted activities or therapies. We conducted a scoping review to determine the prevalence of such coursework at higher education institutions with information on geographic location, number of courses and their focus, department through which coursework was delivered, and level of study (undergraduate or graduate). We identified 39 higher education institutions in 29 states that provided coursework in the following areas: therapeutic riding/horsemanship (n = 71, 64.5%), equine-assisted mental health (n = 23, 20.9%), equine-assisted learning (n = 7, 6.4%), and hippotherapy (n = 1, 0.9%). Survey or overview courses (n = 8, 7.3%) were also identified. A total of 110 courses that met inclusion criteria were offered in the 2016-2017 academic year, both at undergraduate (n = 92) and graduate levels (n = 17), with just over half of institutions delivering coursework through social science or liberal arts departments (n = 20, 51.3%) and the rest through animal science departments (n = 19, 48.7%). Several challenges emerged based on the review process related to use of terminology, understanding of professional scope and the lack of educational standards for equine-assisted fields. Our suggestions for future research include examination of curriculum content and instructor qualifications to increase

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