Alfred University News

Alfred University’s Peggy Shank named to committee studying use of horses in mental health treatment

Peggy Shank, Western instructor, trainer, and assistant Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) coach in Alfred University’s equestrian program, has been appointed to the Research Committee of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).

EAGALA is a revolutionary mental health treatment model incorporating horses. It utilizes a team approach that includes a licensed, credentialed mental health professional, a qualified equine specialist, and horses working together with the client in an arena at all times.

According to EAGALA, the mission is as follows: "The mission of the EAGALA Research Committee is to address both mental health and equine research issues and questions, identify resources to strengthen and build the body of evidence to support EAGALA model practice, and encourage all EAGALA members to engage in high standards of program evaluation and research in their EAGALA Model programs".

The committee’s objectives are:

  • Move EAGALA Model towards status of an evidence-based intervention
  • Educate people within and outside of EAGALA about research issues and outcomes
  • Support members who are already conducting research or are seeking collaborations
  • Develop partnerships between EAGALA and other groups who have interests in promoting or conducting research
  • Develop a system for supporting EAGALA members who want to begin a research program
  • Encourage, support, and provide resources for members to conduct program evaluation on their clinical outcomes


“I am really excited to be a part of this committee,” remarked Shank, who has been certified as an equine specialist in the EAGALA model of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) since 2016. “I am very passionate about EAGALA as an EAP model.”

Shank says she has been working with Lynn O'Connell, professor of school counseling, Dani Gagne, professor of counseling, and Robert Stein, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Science, to get the EAP curriculum approved at Alfred University.