Foundation Certification for Therapy Horses

Australian First! Certification for Therapy Horses

Visit facilities with your very own Certified Visiting Therapy Horse.

Please note this training programme is currently under re-development. Join our mailing list and social pages to stay up to date!

In conjunction with Equine Fusion, Lead the Way offers a training programme for individuals wishing to train their pony/horse as a Certified Visiting Therapy Horse for work in Equine-Assisted Interventions (EAI) or ‘equine therapy’, including visiting facilities. 

This training is designed to provide a solid foundation to working with your pony/horse in professional therapeutic settings (e.g. Equine-Assisted Therapy), or in visiting settings, and is provided via residential and on-line formats.  The programme covers Therapy-Horse training by an expert horse trainer, including handling, socialisation, and skills training; handler training in managing the working Therapy-Horse; and guidance on the formalities and logistics of visiting with your pony/horse, including ethics, occupational health and safety, insurance and policies & procedures.  Handlers will be required to demonstrate handling skills in addition to knowledge of the formalities and logistics of working with clients and horses.


  • People wanting to certify their pony/horse to visit facilities such as nursing homes or schools
  • Experienced pony/horse owners wanting to begin their training in Equine-Assisted Interventions as Therapy Horse Handlers
  • Existing EAI practitioners who want to extend their services to include site or facility visits to clients
  • EAI practitioners who want to enhance their horse’s skills to enhance safety when working with clients, and
  • EAI practitioners who want the peace of mind that their working pony/horse has certification

Location: Gippsland Victoria (TBC)

Dates: There are no dates currently available for this course. 

Early Bird (pay in full two weeks prior to due date) $TBC

Standard Price: TBC

Course Details

Please note course details are subject to change as this course is currently under re-development

This course focuses equally on the theories underpinning AAIs, and the ability to practice and deliver interventions with your pony/horse. Each day is divided into a combination of practice and theory. Lectures are designed to enhance participant’s understanding of the skills gained each day, and the knowledge will build over the course of the week.

Learning Objectives

This course is designed to enable participants to develop competencies in safely taking their pony/horse  into facilities and institutions for the purpose of Equine Assisted Interventions.

  1. Develop effective equine handling skills in complex and distracting environments, and adapt to changes or challenges as they arise
  2. Expand equine management education and skills, including health, safety and welfare, and describe how these are managed within a broader OH&S context
  3. Develop an understanding of equine psychology and behaviour, and how this impacts upon the therapeutic or learning environment
  4. Identify the strengths and limitations of the human-equine team, including triggers, stress and wellbeing
  5. Describe the difference between different types of Equine-Assisted Interventions, including Therapy, Psychotherapy, Activities, and Education/Learning, and demonstrate an understanding of the professional (and legal) boundaries of each
  6. Develop an understating of the benefits of human-equine interaction, including the neurobiological impacts
  7. Develop and demonstrate Equine-Assisted Intervention role-play with the assistance of fellow participants
Requirements for Facility Visitation/Therapy Equines


Your visitation equine needs a calm temperament and sociable personality. Your pony/horse should actively seek out contact with people, including strangers.

The training is an intensive learning experience so your pony/horse must be at least two years old. Male horses must be gelded prior to this course.

Your pony/horse should not be shy of strangers. Your pony/horse should have had some exposure to experiences outside of their paddock, such as dogs, bikes, cars, prams, flapping clothes, human made noises.

Your pony/horse should respond appropriately to basic horsemanship requests by the handler. Your pony/horse should be easy to catch and handle.


  1. My pony/horse has a calm temperament
  2. My pony/horse recovers quickly and becomes calm again after a frightening experience
  3. My pony/horse likes being patted and touched by people
  4. My pony/horse is comfortable with strangers
  5. My pony/horse is comfortable being lead away from the herd for extended periods of time
  6. My pony/horse doesn’t show fear or aggression towards people
  7. My pony/horse is in good health
  8. My pony/horse is regularly drenched and attended to by the farrier and dentist
  9. My pony/horse is fully vaccinated
  10. My pony/horse is not a stallion
  11. My pony/horse does not react adversely to cars, bikes, barking dogs, noisy children
  12. My pony/horse responds to the human for support in chaotic situations
Assessment & Certification

Handlers and their pony/horse are certified as working teams. Assessment will be conducted informally throughout the week, with formal temperament testing and assessment occurring on the final day in the form of simulated visits (role play).  Unpredictable, aggressive or otherwise dangerous reactions from a horse/pony will result in a grade of ‘not suitable’ for visiting work.  Out of control, fearful or avoidant behaviour will result in a grade of ‘not yet competent’ and recommendations for ongoing training or rehabilitation will be provided.

If teams are not yet competent on the final day of the course, opportunities can be negotiated to re-sit the assessment at a later date, or teams may attend a subsequent refresh/recertify day.

Certification remains current for 2 years. It is an expectation of Certification that teams maintain their strong working relationship via 14 hours (2 days) of equine therapy related continuing professional development (CPD) per year.  Acceptable examples of CPD include, horsemanship lessons, formal training, attending Refresh days.  Certification may be removed at any stage if your horse/pony fails to meet the suitability requirements. Teams holding current Certification are eligible to be listed on the Lead The Way Institute Directory page.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Given the unique nature of this course, there’s no RPL for this course.

Day One


  • Introductions
  • Basic maneuvering and handling
  • Workshop handling and leadership techniques


  • Equine behaviour, stress and safety
Day Two


  • Identify and manage equine stress
  • Basic equine first aid


  • Equine health and wellness
Day Three


  • Socialization including familiarity with equipment
  • Training for behaviour  modification


  • Equine training techniques (clickers etc)
  • AAI principles and theory
Day Four


  • Working in challenging and complex environments


  • AAI Applications
  • OH&S lecture, ethics
Day Five
  • Scenario applications
  • Assessment

Course Specific FAQ’s

What should I wear?

Please wear sensible clothing, including sturdy, closed-toe shoes and bring a rain-coat, sunscreen and a hat. Some undercover training areas and an indoor air-conditioned classroom are available, however teams will be exposed to the elements during the course.

Is the course catered?

Light refreshments will be supplied every day. Boiling water, fridge and microwave are also supplied for your convenience.

To help keep costs to a minimum, please bring your lunch.

What should I bring?

Participants will be expected to bring their pony/horse each day of the course (local agistment options will be provided). Please provide a halter and lead for your horse, and a spare in case it’s required. Please bring a water bucket, feed bucket and some food, as your pony/horse will be yarded, and grass alone will not be enough.  Please bring a rug for your pony/horse if required.

You will be provided with comprehensive course and lecture notes and given ample time to ask questions relevant to your particular interests or profession. Please bring a pen and some additional paper to take notes if required.

Agistment & Accommodation Options

Details Coming Soon



All course applicants must be a minimum of 18 years of age, with adequate spoken and written English, and the physical capacity to work with and train equines over 5 consecutive days in outdoors environments. All applicants must be accompanied by their own pony/horse, and will receive certification as a team with that equine.

Each applicant may bring only one equine per course, and the pony/horse must be of suitable age, temperament and health (see our Visitation Pony/Horse Checklist for further information).

Applicants from overseas should speak with us in advance about alternative options.

Application Process

To apply for a course, complete and submit the online application form. Your application will be processed, and you will receive a confirmation email within 3 business days of the application being received by us. If you have not received an email from us within 5 business days, please check your Junk Mail folder, then contact us directly at

The confirmation email will include an invoice and a copy of our payment terms. A deposit is due immediately to confirm your place in the course. If payment or contact has not been made within 72 hours, this may forfeit your place in the course. The balance of course fees is due no later than 28 days prior to the course commencement. Any arrangement for payment outside of these terms must be discussed with and approved by us.  To be eligible for the ‘early bird’ rate, you must pay your course fees in full 42 days prior to course commencement.

Waiting List

If a course is indicated as ‘Waiting List Only’ your application will be placed on the waiting list. Occasionally places become available due to cancellations. Places are offered in order of application and you will be notified by email & SMS (mobile phone message) of an available place. Offers must be accepted or declined within 2 business days or you the place will be offered to the next applicant on the list. Once a place has been accepted you will receive a confirmation email including an invoice and our Payment Terms. A deposit is due immediately to confirm your place in the course. If payment or contact has not been made within 72 hours, this may forfeit your place in the course. The balance of course fees is due no later than 28 days prior to the course commencement. Any arrangement for payment outside of these terms must be discussed with and approved by us.

Refund Policy

Refunds for cancellations made prior to 30 days before the course commences will be provided minus a 25% administration fee. Cancellations after this time will be subject to a forfeit of full deposit. Applications may be transferred to a future course, providing places are available, if notification is made to us prior to 30 days before the course commences. Transfers after this date will be at the discretion of the course administrators.

Should the course be cancelled, for any reason, all monies paid will be refunded in full.