Second study to probe use of horses to teach emotional intelligence

| 20 February 2014 8:50 am
Researchers will explore whether working with horses helps to develop emotional intelligence competencies in humans. Photo: Steve Patton

Researchers will explore whether working with horses helps to develop emotional intelligence competencies in humans. Photo: Steve Patton

Researchers in Kentucky are about to launch a second study exploring the effectiveness of using horses to teach emotional intelligence and leadership skills to nurse leaders.

The March study will follow the encouraging results of a similar pilot study completed in November 2012 by University of Kentucky researchers.

The new study’s aim is to explore innovative ways to develop emotional intelligence skills in nursing directors and nurse managers. This includes competency in the areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, which create effective professional relationships and are critical to running safe, efficient and high performance hospital units.

Project leader Lissa Pohl, the assistant director of the university’s Center for Leadership Development, said that with about 60 participants, the data should be more conclusive as to whether working with horses developed emotional intelligence competencies in humans.

The study will compare the before and after emotional intelligence assessment scores of both a control group and an experimental group.

The nurse managers and directors who participate in the one-day Equine Guided Leadership Education workshop will also complete a qualitative survey that will provide information on what skills the nurses acquired.

The basic premise of equine-guided education is that horses provide in-the-moment feedback about leadership skills, and therefore allow the development of insights that can be applied both in professional and personal lives.

Participants will take part in exercises conducted from the ground that could include observing herd behavior, leading horses, grooming and picking their feet, and moving unrestrained horses through an obstacle course or into an enclosure without touching them.

The Horse Institute, a New York-based provider of equine-assisted learning programs, is partnering with the center to publicize the research and raise funds for the study.

“We see again and again the amazing results our corporate groups and executives have when working with the horses,” said Marie-Claude Stockl, executive director of institute.

“This is why we will match up to $US2500 for every dollar donated to this important research.”

Information on the results of the previous pilot study and about how to contribute to the new study are available here.

Category: Research

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  1. Chuck Wolfe says:


    Glad to see your post. I have done an interview with the lead author of the study, Lissa Pohl, for my radio show that your readers might be interested in listening to. I have actually two shows about research with horses and how they can worked with to help people develop emotional strength and resilience. You can find the shows on this link to the Public Radio Exchange

    Warm regards,
    Chuck Wolfe

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