NEWC attends launch of the Human Equine Interaction Register (HEIR)

The initial launch of the Human Equine Interaction Register (HEIR) took place on Friday 11th March at The Saddlers Hall, London. HEIR has been launched to HETI members for testing until 30th March and on 31st March it will be opened to the UK sector of practitioners. It is a voluntary register to bring together everyone involved in the field of human equine interaction, ensuring high-quality service provision and creating greater awareness of this field of work. NEWC is currently working with representatives from the HEIR working group on a Code of Practice to protect the welfare of equines involved in Equine Assisted Activities which will be incorporated into the NEWC accreditation process and the HEIR.

Currently, several NEWC members offer Human-Equine Interaction programmes. Throughout the UK the availability of such programmes has increased significantly over the past decade and the scope, size and professional backgrounds of these services vary greatly, with little co-ordination as to standards of practice for service users, practitioners, or equines. The Register seeks to provide trust and confidence in the sector to:

·         Protect and promote providers

·         Protect the participants of the service

·         Protect the equines

It is hoped the HEIR will provide a forum for organisations to work together to have a louder voice across the industry – for example, in government where there is a need to be able to influence. There is no way of knowing how many practitioners there are in the UK, which is one of the reasons that a Register that pulls together all practitioners, whether they are already regulated through a professional body or working in an unregulated sector is needed.

The Register will provide a place where clients, service commissioners and funders can get information and reassurance that the organisation offering human equine interaction services is credible and works to minimum standards. This will not only help protect the services users and welfare of therapy equines but also reassure anyone using these invaluable services that they are working ethically and with the horses’ best interests at heart.

Individual practitioners and organisations on the Register will have submitted documents and evidence to confirm that they align to and meet five criteria:

  • Professionalism: competence to practice and commitment to professional development
  • Equine welfare: high equine welfare and management standards
  • Service provision and service user engagement: communication of services and the potential benefits
  • Benefits and impact: professional reflection of the benefits and impact of the service being provided
  • Governance: sufficient management and governance structures in place

 More information about the Register can be found here

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