Horses have the remarkable power to change people’s lives. Beth Lafay, a student in
the Ontario Equine Education and Employment Program, (OEEEP) experiences this
firsthand in her placement work with Heal With Horses.
Nestled in Hillier, Ontario, in Prince Edward County, Heal With Horses is a Canadian
registered charity and dedicated to providing horse & small animal-related activities and programs with the primary focus to promote good physical & mental health & wellness to enhance their guests’ overall sense of well-being. Lafay’s hands on involvement with Heal With Horses was set in to motion when she enrolled in the OEEEP. “I did a google search for courses about horses and found OEEEP. I had just ended a work contract, and had started another job that wasn’t working out, so I decided to register.”
Beth Lafay completed the free six-week online training program and was very pleased with
everything she learned. “The first class was ‘License to Operate’ which was about
animal welfare and resonated with me. The instructors were incredibly helpful and there
was so much practical and valuable information. I loved learning about the different info
on colouring, marking and patterns of horses; this helps me now, when we can point out
to clients, it’s the horse with the blaze and one white sock,”
The objectives of the organization are something that resonates with Lafay.
“Now, I get to work outside with people who are passionate about horses and horse
welfare. No two days are the same. The job helps me to stay engaged….I wake up in
the morning and I’m excited about each day!
Among her gratifying experiences in her placement is her interaction with a three-year-
old client – “he’s quiet and shy and his grandma brings him. He’s the best little
horseman, can ride bareback and he’s so in tune with the horses. I’ve been able to use
methods in the movie Horseboy to help him come out of his shell. When you see people
progress, that’s really validating.”
“Every day at work, I’m able to put what I learned in OEEEP in practise.”
“OEEEP” has been life changing for me,” confirms Lafay. “I did know the owner of Heal
With Horses before I was in the program. My niece took therapeutic riding there. I
stopped by there to see Sue (the owner) to get her advice on something, mentioned
OEEEP and the next thing you know, my placement was set up.”
Heal With Horses is currently home to 20 horses, a mix of mares and geldings ranging
in age from 14-25 and a range of breeds including paso finos, quarter horses,
thoroughbreds, paint, draft percheron blend, Canadians, Tennessee Walker, and three
miniature horses. Lafay points out that for many of the horses, it’s their second career.
“What happens at Heal With Horses is therapeutic for horses and the clients. Horses
are the best barometer of pure intentions.”
Employers looking for help on the farm or in any role in the equine industry may be
eligible to receive 50% of the wages covered through the OEEEP program for 12-18 weeks or until the program's contact end date of January 26, 2024. For more information on registering for OEEEP as an employer, visit Equine Employer | VPI Working Solutions (vpi-inc.com)