The Borderlands Center is participating in a multi-phase research project studying the physiological effects of equine-facilitated interactions on participating horse-human pairs. Pilot results have encouraged us to pursue more research into the possible ways human-horse interactions can be beneficial. Dr. Ann Baldwin, Barbara Rector, MA and Ann Alden, MA are the research team members for the first three phases with the help of Lisa Walters and Linda Kohanov.

Three Phases

Three phases of this project have been conducted, the first at Borderlands Center in Sonoita, AZ in 2014, the second in Sebastapol, CA at Lisa Walters’ EquuSatori in 2015, and the third one at Linda Kohanov’s in Amado, AZ in 2016. Barbara Rector’s Adventures in Awareness exercise Con Su Permiso was the first equine-facilitated learning interaction to be studied and took place at Borderlands Center. The second phase in California looked at Mindful Grooming. Rock Back and Sigh was the exercise chosen by Linda Kohanov for the third phase at her facility in Amado. Data from the first two phases has been analyzed and results from both were similar. Data has not yet been analyzed for Phase 3.


Upcoming research is being planned for the residents at The Hacienda at the River, a new senior living facility in Tucson, AZ. Our research team has expanded to include Professors Dieter and Netzin Steklis from the University of Arizona. Details are still being planned for a research project at The Hacienda at the River. This research will test the effectiveness of the program In the Presence of Horses developed by Barbara Rector for this newly opened, pioneering assisted living facility. The program is based on Barbara Rector’s Adventures in Awareness EFL interactions such as Con Su Permiso.

Watch for Blog posts with more information about the results and implications of our research for equine-facilitated learning interactions as more results are analyzed. One goal is to be able to determine which interactions are most appropriate for which participants in equine-facilitated learning programs and what role the horses play in providing beneficial outcomes for the human participants. We also want to know how various interactions affect the horses involved, too. We are learning how various established EFL activities affect physiological and psychological responses in elderly people and what the key essence of the horse-human interaction is that produces mutually beneficial effects.