Horses Preparing Superintendent Candidates for the Leadership Arena

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Background: This study considers the use of animal-assisted interventions (AAIs), specifically horses, in an educational setting, which has received minimal attention in the human–animal interaction research. Purpose: The study sought to understand perceptions of students in an educational leadership preparation program as they participated in equine assisted learning (EAL) activities. Methodology/Approach: Participants (n = 66) were graduate students who completed an open-ended survey questionnaire in 2014 to 2018. In addition to the survey answers, the data included observation notes and course evaluations. Data were analyzed for themes and transfer. Findings/Conclusion: Evidence in understanding the impact of EAL activities. In addition, the study explores student perceptions of how they related the EAL experiences to not only their own traits and beliefs as leaders (self-awareness), but also in exploring their beliefs and biases about systems leadership in public education. Implications: The use of AAIs in educational programs may provide students a living, active metaphor for what they need to do in their own leadership lives, question boundaries, and gain a sense of self as a future system leader.