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Ethical Basis for Best Practice in Equine Facilitated Interactions

These principles form an ethical basis for best practice in Equine Facilitated Interactions, they invite all practitioners to both a personally commit to, and accept the responsibility, to act ethically and to encourage ethical behaviour in all situations.

These principles are intended to guide and inspire those facilitating Equine Facilitated Interactions towards achieving the highest ideals of the profession. Whilst not obligations, all practitioners should approach their practice with direct reference to each of these Ethical Principles.

Alongside these principles is our Framework for the Ethical Treatment of Horses which specifically sets out the importance of care and respect for the horses supporting this work.  

Responsibility and Accountability

Practitioners need to be motivated, concerned and directed towards good ethical practice. They are required to take responsibility to maintain these standards and Practitioners should always accept responsibility and accountability for their professional behaviour and actions. Practitioners maintain ethical compliance in their own practice towards their service users. When ethical conflicts occur, Practitioners will attempt to resolve these conflicts in a responsible manner. Practitioners are also aware of, and remain accountable for, their professional responsibilities towards clients, service users, society and to the communities in which they work, this includes the need to maintain a Duty of Candour.


Practitioners work to provide benefit to those with whom they engage, acting in their best interests and always working within their limits of competence, training, experience and supervision. This principle involves an obligation to use regular and on-going supervision to enhance the quality of service provision and to commit to enhancing practice by continuing professional development. An obligation of the Practitioner is to act in the best interests of service users or clients since they are generally non-autonomous and dependent on professional care providers, guardians or significant others.

Do no harm

Practitioners are committed to not harming those with whom they work. Practitioners are aware that their professional judgements and actions may affect the lives of others and so are committed to guard against personal, financial, social, organisational, emotional, sexual or political factors that may lead to a misuse of their influence or exploitation of those with whom they work. This may also involve not providing services when it is considered unfit to do so.

In recognition of the outdoor and interactive nature of working with horses Practitioners will strive to maintain the physical safety of all service users and clients under their responsibility.

Practitioners also need to extend the idea of “do no harm” to the horses that they are working with. This work is founded on their feedback, both real and perceived, this means having an holistic awareness of their wellbeing, i.e. physical, mental and emotional. “Do no harm” in an equine context means not only being aware of, and sensitive to, their physical condition, but recognising the emotional impact that sessions and exercises are having on them and intervening where appropriate. 

Practitioners also have a responsibility to challenge the incompetence or malpractice of others and to contribute in investigations or adjudications concerning the professional practice and/or actions of others. Again, this reflects both interactions with client(s) and care for their horses.

Trust and Integrity

Practitioners establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work and shall act with honesty and integrity, honouring the trust placed in them. Practitioners are obliged to maintain confidentiality and limit disclosures of confidential information to a that which is appropriate to their workplace and legal requirements.


Practitioners recognise that fairness and justice is an entitlement for all persons. Practitioners ensure that all persons have fair and equal access to, and benefit from, the contributions of Equine Facilitated Interactions, and to experience an equal quality in the services being offered. Practitioners exercise judgement and care to ensure that their potential biases, levels of competence and limitations of their training and experience do not directly or indirectly lead to unjust practices.

Fairness is also an important consideration on the part of the equine engagement. Practitioners should not be making inappropriate demands of horses, in terms of their capability and capacity to deliver, this includes being respectful of their age and/or known physical conditions. Wherever possible horses should be given a choice, whether to be part of the interaction, or to say “no” at any time during it.


6.1 For people’s rights and dignity

Practitioners respect the dignity and worth of all people and the rights to privacy, confidentiality, and autonomy. Practitioners respect the autonomy of those with whom they work, ensuring accuracy of advertising and delineation of service information. Practitioners seek freely the informed consent of their service users and clients, or where appropriate those who those legally responsible for them. Practitioners engage in clear and explicit contracts, safety agreements, confidentiality requirements and inform those involved of any foreseeable conflicts of interest. Practitioners will have in place, and adhere to in practice, up to date policies and procedures which align to this principle.

6.2 For people’s needs and relationships

Practitioners respect the needs of individuals, including emotional, psychological, social, financial, educational, health and familial needs. Practitioners who respect people’s needs and relationships are aware that clients may be dependent upon significant others and that autonomous decision making may not be possible. Practitioners respect the client’s relationships and ensure that, where possible, those in significant relationships to the client are included in the decision-making processes.

6.3 For equality, diversity and inclusion

Practitioners are expected at all times to recognise and respect the conditions of the Equality Act (2010) and act in line with the Register’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion statement.  

6.4 For horses’ rights, welfare, needs and relationships

Practitioners must respect the hoses that support this work, acknowledging their welfare is an essential recognition of their contribution to the process. This relates to both the horses’ day to day welfare and needs, as well as treating them with respect, due care and attention during sessions with service users or clients. 

Respect for the horse also means within the bounds of safety for all given them agency in the process. This means that we not only offer them choice but also recognising their voice. Knowing that they have agency in a situation facilitates an authenticity on their part, and that authenticity creates genuine and meaningful learning for all.   

The Register’s Framework for the Ethical Treatment of Horses defines these standards.

Self-respect and Development

Practitioners should also similarly apply all of these principles to themselves. This involves a respect for their own knowledge, needs and development. This includes accessing opportunities for personal learning and continued professional development, as well as a commitment to regular supervision. As well as ensuring that they are appropriately protected by insurance.

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