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Experimental trial demonstrates positive effects of equine facilitated learning on child social competence

By Patricia Pendry, Stephanie Roeter

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Although equine facilitated programs have gained in popularity over the last decade, virtually nothing is known about the causal effects of equine facilitated interventions on human development and wellbeing. To address this gap in the literature, researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine if an 11-week equine facilitated learning program enhanced 5th-8th grade children's social competence. Children were recruited for program participation through referral by school counselors and recruitment in schools and community agencies. Researchers then randomly assigned 64 physically and mentally able children to an experimental group or waitlisted control group. Children in the experimental group participated in an 11-week equine facilitated learning program designed to increase social competence through a series of once-weekly, 90-minute sessions of individual, team, and group-focused equine facilitated activities, whereas children in the control group did not until 16 weeks later. Parents of children in both groups provided ratings of child social competence at the beginning and again at the end of the 11-week program. Results indicated significant group differences in mean levels of child social competence at posttest (p = .020), suggesting a moderate positive effect of program participation (d = .61). Waitlisted children in the control group who completed the program at a later date demonstrated significantly higher posttest levels of social competence after program completion (p = .000), compared to their own pretest scores. Using a lagged dependent variable approach, program effects were robust (p = .026) when simultaneously considering children's pretest levels of social competence, age, gender, and referral status.

Date 2013
Publication Title Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 1-19
URL https://www.apa-hai.org/human-animal-interaction/haib/download-info/experimental-trial-demonstrates-positive-effects-of-equine-facilitated-learning-on-child-social-competence/
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals
  3. Child development
  4. Children
  5. Experimentation
  6. Horses
  7. Human-animal interactions
  8. Humans
  9. Learning
  10. Mammals
  11. Men
  12. open access
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Primates
  15. Social Competence
  16. Social psychology and social anthropology
  17. Socioemotional development
  18. ungulates
  19. vertebrates
Badges
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed