Harnessing horses in social pedagogy: Equine-assisted social education in a school context

Ritva Mickelsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article introduces a school-based social pedagogical programme using horses to support pupils’ educational development, social and emotional skills and self-esteem. These are essential for pupils’ well-being, to reduce the risk of developing emotional disorders in youth and later life. In terms of academic outcomes, these social-emotional skills, character strengths and health benefits are recognised in the Finnish educational agenda. Equine-assisted social education (EASE) differs from recreational riding programs by its frame of reference in social pedagogy and in the human–equine bond it features, positioning horses as co-educators to improve interaction and collaboration. This human–equine communication supports both human and equine welfare if applied with attention, respect and empathy. Furthermore, the stables environment provides a setting for enhancing the pedagogical relationship and trust between
pupils and their teacher. This equine activity practice, like other educational interventions, has physical, behavioural, social and emotional intentions. In addition, as social pedagogy is a complex and innovative discipline, EASE represents a ground-breaking practice within this discipline. The purpose is to
respond to individual and social difficulties with preventive and problem-solving practice. As Finnish social pedagogy emphasises educational dialogue and communication, EASE facilitates non-verbal communication and positive behaviour. Additionally, it consists of factors improving collaboration
through experiences, activities and dialogue.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Social Pedagogy
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences
  • 515 Psychology
  • 412 Animal science, dairy science

Cite this