January 4, 2018

Why are we so passionate about Certification for Equine Interaction Professionals?


In today’s world of burgeoning equine programs, CEIP remains the only credential that requires documented proof and independent testing of a body of practice demonstrating the ability to safely and knowledgeably facilitate interactions with horses.


The EAAT (Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies) world is undergoing great change. “Equine Therapy” is now hugely popular, and is rapidly achieving mainstream acceptance. With this increased popularity, a naïve public becomes a group of very vulnerable consumers.


Single method based programs offer certificates of completion to participants who attend weekend workshops and clinics. These individuals may have little knowledge and experience working with equines and the public. Many who have been in this profession for a lifetime are well aware that there is no “one size fits all” with horses. Slick marketing cannot make up for ignorance or incompetence, and as an organization we are committed to the safety and longevity of the EAAT industry. Entry-level training is a great step toward building a practice, but it is a step, not a finish line.


According to the American Farmland Trust, 40 acres of farm and ranch land is lost every hour to development (https://www.farmland.org/our-work/areas-of-focus/farmland). Population growth and urban sprawl are slowly diminishing the open spaces that used to be available for families to have horses, and for young people to have a lifelong foundation in observation and interaction with equines. Today’s young people – our next generation of practitioners – are growing up without the experiential connection to horses shared by past generations.


In addition, many equine programs are offered online, many of which are informative and educationally sound. However, they can never replicate the experience of actually learning with horses, nor offer the tangible, energetic effects of being in the physical presence of horses with students/clients. While many people are showing interest in “equine facilitation certification” programs by attending workshops, and even enrolling in college equine programs, the need for boots-on-the-ground practice is paramount to the overall success of providing safe, professional and knowledgeable equine programs to the public. This is why the examination requires documented hours proving applicants have been working directly with clients and horses over a lengthy period of time.


The goal of the Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals is multifaceted. Primarily, it exists to honor and highlight a top level of proficiency in the facilitation of EAAT. It also embraces the diversity of training, experience, and practices leading to professional, safe and knowledgeable facilitation. It is not a method in and of itself, it does not offer specific training, nor does it endorse any particular method, organization or practice. It exists to certify the “cream of the crop” in the equine field so the public can be reasonably assured that, as consumers, they are receiving the most professional, comprehensive and reputable certification.


The qualifications necessary for taking the exam for CEIP certification are extensive by design. That helps insure that applicants are meeting high standards in their experience, education and knowledge of equines. Those who pass the examination and become independently certified are truly professionals. Many of the current certification holders also offer internships through their programs to help expand experience for those wishing to obtain the required number of direct facilitation hours in order to take the examination.


CBEIP is committed to supporting the true professionals in our industry. Attaining the certification is not easy, but it is highly significant when it’s achieved. Board members offer individual mentoring for candidates, providing direction and encouragement as candidates work towards their goals of becoming Equine Interaction Professionals. Our objective is to insure that those who qualify to sit for and take the examination will successfully pass. As an organization we are fully committed to clients and their equine partners, and believe their experiences should be safe, respectful and facilitated by true experts in the field.

Certification, Certificates, and Accreditation - What Do They Really Mean by Joan Campbell                                     


Not all certifications are created equal. When you hear someone talking about being certified in a specific field or by a specific association, what does it really mean? Terms that belong to the same category, such as certificates and accreditation, can also be confusing to understand, even by those who are certified or hold these certificates. Let’s go through each term to understand them better.



Many think of the word certificate to mean something very basic, like a certificate of attendance given after a presentation. But certificates come in different forms. What they all have in common is that they belong to the person who has earned it. They cannot be revoked, and do not have to be renewed. Certificates are typically awarded at the end of a workshop or study program and demonstrate mastery of knowledge in a particular area. If you have an academic degree, a diploma, this is also a type of a certificate. A specific kind of certificate is issued in higher education. These certificates, such as post-master certificates, indicate in-depth study of a subject, includes assessment, and rarely takes less than six months to complete.



What many people don’t know is that there are different kinds of certifications. The highest level of certification, and how certifications are meant to function, is independent certification. This means that the organization that issues your certification, typically a board, is independent from the place you received training and there is no membership involved. This is to ensure that your knowledge, skills, and abilities are independently assessed. It is not associated with any educational course, book, or individual. The certification organization does not have a financial interest in where you got your training. An independent certification typically involves an exam of some sort and can be profession-wide. There are also other kinds of certifications that do not meet the requirements of being independent. These certifications are sometimes referred to as internal or product-specific. In these cases the association or organization that certifies individuals might also train them and might require that certified individuals are also members of the association. Internal or product-specific certifications tend to focus on a specific task, model, or product. A mechanic can be certified in servicing Ford engines, but won’t be certified in servicing all car engines if the training was focused on one particular brand. What all certifications have in common is that they are only granted for a limited amount of time and must be renewed (or recertified) in order to be maintained. This renewal provides some assurance that the certification holder is keeping current in the profession. The certification might even be reworked for failure to meet recertification requirements or for a violation of its code of ethics.



An easier term to understand is accreditation. Simply put, people can’t be accredited, but programs, buildings, institutions, and organizations can. Accreditation means that a third party has verified that certain requirements have been met by the entity that is accredited. An example of this is higher education institutions. 


When you hear someone say they are certified, it can mean a number of different things. As an informed consumer it is important to understand the differences. 


The CBEIP provides independent, profession-wide certification to those who work with horses in mental health or in learning services. 


March 6, 2018



I have been a professional horseman, trainer and instructor since the age of 17. At 13 I was the youngest registered polo player in the United States. Now, at 71 years of age, I have been a paid professional trainer and instructor for over 50 years. I was fortunate to have established my own horse ranch on the island of Maui in the early 80's and began a horse trekking business into the beautiful tropical outback of Maui's pristine north shore. Prior to moving to Maui, while working as a riding instructor at summer camps in Michigan, I discovered that if I taught children something about the nature, language, and psychology of horses, how to handle them on the ground, along with how to ride them, the entire experience was elevated into discovery about themselves as well as about life itself. A simple riding lesson became an exercise in developing self-awareness, kindness, compassion, integrity and mindfulness. Additionally, the skills of good leadership and how to have a successful team experience were also part of this unique learning program.


Early on, I learned about the significance of developing trust in horses. I love to ride, but learning about how and why trust is so important to a horse, brought whatever I did with a horse to a higher and safer level. Developing trust with the horse became the first and foremost thing I did with all horses with which I interacted. I began teaching "horse" to all who came to work or ride with me.


In the late 80's I heard about Equine Experiential Learning (EEL) which was started by Barbara Rector in Arizona. I was very interested in ways of developing the horse/human experience beyond riding horses, so I signed up for one of her programs. This experience significantly changed my life. It wasn't long after that I began my own Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) program call The Maui Horse Whisperer Experience. This was not a program that merely "used" horses within its process; I wanted a partnership with the horses. This decision to consciously and intentionally "partner" with horses, set my program apart from others that began to pop up around the country. My focus was to develop a program that was beneficial to both the human and the horse at the same time. To accomplish this, I needed to be able to impart some basic knowledge of horses to the humans who came to me.


I visited many other equine assisted programs and was often disappointed, and even angered, at what I saw. I frequently saw horses emotionally abused by humans who knew little about the nature of horses and seemed to care even less. I would question the humans providing these programs and was frequently told their focus was entirely on processing the human through the program and not about horses or teaching anything about horses. It became obvious to me that they knew little of the real nature of horses and for a time I became a publicly outspoken critic of these equine facilitated programs.


In the beginning, the normal model for an equine assisted program included the presence of an equine assisted professional. Eventually this requirement was dropped because too many folks doing the work felt that they had all the horse knowledge needed. Unfortunately, this is still the norm in many places.


My intention with this treatise is to motivate as many people as possible to gain the experience and knowledge with horses to understand what it really means to develop a trust-based partnership with a horse doing any activity with a human and especially within an equine assisted program. If a program is not as beneficial for the horse as it is for the humans, don't do it. Be part of the solution in resolving this unfair and unsatisfactory situation regarding horses participating in any equine facilitated program. Any mutually successful relationship with a horse is life enriching for both.