Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) Announces New Committee for 2022- Equine Well-Being Task Force

For a long time there have been a lot of questions about the welfare of the horses in horse/human interactions. Are the horses stressed?  How much work and what type is too much?  Is serviceably sound ok if riders are just walking?  As almost always, the answer is “It Depends” because there are so many variables.

HHRF funds researchers and not the horses, so we really cannot regulate even minimum standards of welfare, let alone maximum standards for well-being. But we can educate researchers and others about what it takes to have horses in maximum physical, emotional, and mental health.  If we want researchers to be aware of these things then we have to come up with guidelines to help them determine if the horses in their research are in peak condition on all levels to provide the most impactful interactions.

Along with a core group of equine advocates, HHRF formed a Task Force in 2021 for Guidelines for Equine Well-being.  These equine advocates connected to HHRF are exceptional horse people with experience in the international scene of equine welfare, research backgrounds, and most importantly work well together.

The guidelines are based on our beliefs that:

  • The integrity of the research is directly related to the well-being and suitability of the horses providing the interactions.
  • Horses are sentient beings that are aware of, sensitive to, and affected by their environment including the physical and emotional state of others in their presence.
  • When a horse is well managed and cared for with consideration and empathy, they build resilience to more effectively and safely cope with the inevitable stresses of life.
  • The horse needs to be in optimal physical, mental, and emotional health to enhance their ability to engage with humans.

The task force reviewed numerous existing National and International Equine Welfare Guidelines, realizing there is a huge difference between keeping a horse in South Korea or Denmark or Arizona. They then decided to write the HHRF guidelines from the perspective of the horse and leave for discussion how to meet the horse’s needs in a variety of environments.  And that opens the door for lots of Educational pieces as well as discussion.  The task force added an extensive resource list to the HHRF Guidelines for more specific information.

The next goal is to develop a survey with questions to make one think about the “How to” for keeping a horse healthy and happy.  Examples: Do you test your hay for quality?  Do you use a body score to chart your horse’s seasonal changes? Do your horses have a weight limit for riding? How do you determine a horse’s suitability for a specific client?  This is not to judge, but to see what is actually happening with the horses in the world of Equine Assisted Services/Equine Facilitated Interactions.

The HHRF Board of Directors embraced the vision of Molly Sweeney (Director Emeritus) to elevate our emphasis on the wellbeing of horses by making the former Equine Wellbeing task force a standing committee of the Board.

Check out these guidelines at and see what the horses have to say.

Horses and Humans working together- Watch for our survey coming in 2022 and help provide human input.

Contribute to HHRF today and help ensure that this important research, and education about research on horse-human interactions continues. For more information about HHRF, visit the website or contact Pebbles Turbeville, Executive Director,

Mission: Through sustained investment in rigorous research, HHRF serves as a catalyst to advance global knowledge of horse-human interactions and their impact on health and wellness.

CONTACT: Pebbles Turbeville, HHRF Executive Director, or