Scientific Committee


Prof. Marek W. Kozak

University of Warsaw-Centre of European Regional and Local Studies EUROREG

Professor at the University of Warsaw, Poland (since 2012). Graduated from the same University in 1980. Ph.D. received in 1986 in the Polish Academy of Sciences. Dr habilitowany in Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 2009. Expert of the Ministry of Regional Development, ESPON and other. Member of the Committee for Spatial Economy and Regional Planning (Polish Academy of Sciences). Member of the Regional Studies Association, Polish Sociological Association. Published over 200 articles on: regional development and policy, cohesion policy, tourism in development, evaluation. Took part in international and national research projects and research networks (Framework Programme, EU ESPON, RSA research network on tourism in development and other projects). Recently received grant from the National Science Centre. Evaluator of publications, public projects and programmes. Lecturer of the EU regional policy; Tourism in development and Evaluation.

Dr. Marilyn Sokolof

Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning

Dr. Marilyn Sokolof, PhD, is a licensed psychologist, a Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. She has provided Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) for 15+ years, and is now Director of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy at Mending Fences, a residential addictions program on a 400 acre horse farm in Florida. She teaches EFP to professionals through her training program unbridledtherapy. She is past president of the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association, and is an instructor/evaluator for the PATH Intl Equine Specialist Training Workshop. She has authored articles and book chapters and presented at professional psychology and equine conferences.

Prof. Sarah L. Ralston

VMD, PhD, DACVN, is a Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

Her research in the past 30+ years focused on various aspects of equine nutrition. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of veterinary medicine combined degree program in the early 80’s, she earned her board certification from the American College of Veterinary Nutrition in 1989.

She has participated in a variety of therapeutic riding programs in the USA since the 80’s when she loaned her horse to a program in Colorado. She was on the board of directors for Special People United to Ride (SPUR) in NJ 1995-1997 and has remained supportive of programs thoughout the state.

Prof. Yun-Hee Kim, MD, PhD

Prof. Yun-Hee Kim is currently a director of the Center for Prevention and Rehabilitation, Heart Vascular and Stroke Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.

She is also working as a professor at the Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, and the Department of Health Science and Technology, Samsung Advanced Institute for Health Science and Technology, Seoul, Korea.
She graduated from Yonsei University Medical School in 1982 and received internship and resident training at the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Presbyterian Medical Center, Chonju, Korea. In 1996, she was awarded Ph.D. of Neuroanatomy. She has been working as a chief professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in Chonbuk National University Hospital from 1992 to 2002. Since 2003, she was taking professorship at the Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, and currently in charge of the Center for Prevention and Rehabilitation, Heart Vascular and Stroke Institute, Samsung Medical Center. She is a president of Korean Society for Neurorehabilitation, and also takes leadership position in other Academic Societies of Korea such as the Korean Society for Human Brain Mapping, the Korean Society for Neuromudulaton, and the Korean Academy for Therapeutic Horsemanship, etc.
Her major field of clinical activity is neurological rehabilitation for the patients with brain disease in both motor and cognitive functions. Her research interests are investigation of human neural plasticity using functional neuroimaging such as functional MRI, EEG, and fNIRS. She also is conducting research projects for modulating neuroplasticity by noninvasive brain stimulation such as transcranial magnetic or direct current stimulations. Currently, she is receiving the research grants from Korean Scientific Foundation for developing the patient-specific noninvasive brain stimulation and from Korean CDC for Korean Stroke Cohort for Functioning and Rehabilitation. She has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles in the famous international and domestic academic journals and 10 chapters of books.

Roisin Brennan BSocSc, MSocSC

Therapeutic Riding and Equine Assisted Learning training Course Co-Ordinator FLF

Roisin holds a strong research interest in horse and human interactions as well as equine welfare within Equine Assisted Interventions .Roisin was the winner of the Pat Clancy Award in 2015 from University College Dublin. She has apprenticed in several horse training facilities in British Columbia and California discovering new methods of empathetic horsemanship based on equine learning behaviour and cognition. She is a certified silver level Chris Irwin horsemanship trainer in both ground -work and riding as well as an Equine Assisted Learning Building Blocks facilitator from Cartier Equine, Alberta. With a strong interest in research throughout her work with horses and people in Canada and in Ireland Roisin has closely studied the underlying mechanisms of the horse and human bond as well as exploring sound research methodologies and theoretical frameworks for equine assisted activities. Roisin is an active member of the Equine Facilitated Education and Therapy Association in Ireland.

Dr. Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann PhD, PT

Therapeutic Riding and Equine Assisted Learning training Course Co-Ordinator FLF

Dr. Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann is a physiotherapist, particularly trained in clinical orthopedics/neurology/neurosurgery before moving into teaching and research. He holds a PhD in Medical Sociology where key concepts are play, recuperation, agency and body politics – all very relevant to equine assisted activities, therapeutic or not. He is a certified riding physiotherapist in the Norwegian Association of Physiotherapists, and a certified trainer level 1 (of 4) Norwegian Equestrian Federation.
He has tenure as a researcher at Bergen University College in Norway, and offer individual riding and equine assisted physiotherapy treatment to patients referred from the GP with mental health problems, drug addiction or generic musculoskeletal diseases.

View PhD:
My equine-publications are in Norwegian. I am currently working on three English equine related publications related to i) a co-authored article on public health/EAA on green care farms for people with drug addiction, ii) a book chapter on equine assisted physiotherapy and the philosophy of Gadamer, and ii) a co-authored article/chapter on EAT.

Antonios Angoules MD,PhD

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Faculty of Health & Caring Professions, Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Greece

He earned his degree in physical therapy from the Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki, Greece and his medical doctor (MD) degree as well as his Ph.D. from the medical school of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Following his specialization in Orthopaedic Surgery, he pursued post doctoral education at the Academic Unit of Trauma & Orthopaedics of Leeds General Infirmary in Leeds, Great Britain, completing Clinical Fellowship in Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma. He constitutes an adjunct faculty member of the Technological Educational Institute of Athens. His research includes scientific fields such as Musculoskeletal Trauma, Equestrian Injuries, Sports Injuries, Physical Rehabilitation and Hippotherapy. He is serving as an editorial member of many international journals and is an expert reviewer of several reputed medical journals. He has authored numerous national and international research articles and has also contributed in the authorship of several books related to Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.

Dr. Kim Brown

Founder Director, Nature Therapy CIC, United Kingdom

Dr. Kim Brown is the Founder Director of Nature Therapy CIC, a not for profit social enterprise aimed at nourishing minds through nature. The enterprise has bases both in the UK and in Portugal.

Kim has a background as a CEO of a charity for many years and was previously a Senior Advisor at the Home Office on children and young people in the criminal justice system. She is a qualified nurse, expedition leader, teacher and former midwife with an MPhil in Research Methodology, and a MSc Health Education. Kim’s Health Science Doctorate at the University of Southampton involved Discourse Analysis to explore how Equine Assisted Therapy had been constructed. Her research surfaced insights into practice alongside guidance for practitioners to help them evolve the involvement of equines in human well being into the future. The research can be downloaded from

In 2003 Kim received a travel scholarship to further her studies into equine assisted therapy across the UK, Europe and the USA. She is currently involved in researching and delivering a Wolf Assisted Therapy programme.

Erna Törmälehto

University Lecturer, University of Tampere, Finland

Erna has been working at the University of Tampere, Pori Unit, since 2004 as a lecturer of social work. She is A.M., PhD Student and her on going research focuses on identification of the emotional state of children. She has done horse-back riding therapy with children and adults with special needs since 1993 as a private practioner. Erna is also a psychotherapist in the field of psychoanalytic children’s group psychotherapy and an occupational therapist. She has written articles in Finnish about dog and horse assisted therapy. (Horse Assisted Therapy and Autism 2011, Therapeutic Effect of Animal on Functions and Progress in Child-groups 2013 and Therapeutic Potential of a Horse, when working with groups of children or young people 2013.)

Margareta Håkanson

Medical licenciate, Registered Physiotherapist, Certified Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychosomatics

Margareta is a Medical licenciate, registered physiotherapist, certified specialist in Psychiatry and Psychosomatics, and in her research connected to SCCIIL Interdiciplinary centre, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
She has been involved in the development of Equine Assisted Therapy in Sweden since the early 1990’s, as clinician and as researcher. She has been running projects aimed at developing education and research in AAI at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 2006-2010. Since 2013 Margareta is vice chairman in OHI, (former IRT) Sweden, where she has been a board member for 13 years.
The subject for her thesis was “Equine assisted therapy in Physiotherapy”. She was a member of the scientific committee for the IAHAIO conference in Stockholm 2010. Her research areas have been covering physiotherapy, horse and human multimodel communication and nature based rehabilitation. Her professional fields of interest is to combine EAT with body awareness therapies. Her patients suffer from stress related diseases, eating disorders and trauma. Today she mainly works as a clinician and volunteer at Gothenburg Riding Club for Disabled Riders, west Sweden.”

Dr. Seán L’Estrange

Lecturer at the School of Sociology, University College Dublin (UCD)

Dr. Seán L’Estrange is a lecturer at the School of Sociology, University College Dublin (UCD). He has recently begun to introduce, promote and develop the emerging interdisciplinary field of Human-Animal Studies (HAS) within Ireland. Seán teaches an undergraduate sociology course ‘Animals and Human Society’ at UCD, has supervised Masters dissertations on topics within this field, and is working on building an interdisciplinary research network within Ireland to draw together disparate researchers in the field for the purposes of collaboration on future research projects. With a background in historical and political sociology, Seán is particularly interested in developing a conceptual framework for the political sociology of human-animal relations.

Dulce García

PhD, MBA, Founder of Life-Is-Art

Dulce García is the Founder of Life-Is-Art™, an organization dedicated to the study and research of best practices in the field of equine-facilitated learning.
She holds a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and her dissertation is a scientific and spiritual exploration of the horse-human relationship. Dulce has dedicated the last 15 years to the study and research of the transformative potential of horse-facilitated activities.

Dulce is certified as an Advanced EFL facilitator through Epona Equestrian Services. She studied in Tucson, AZ with Linda Kohanov, EFL pioneer and author of The Tao of Equus and Riding Between the Worlds. Dulce has held various clinics in Arizona and New Mexico since 2005. She also earned an MBA from the prestigious Thunderbird School of Global Management and has held leadership and teaching positions in industry and academe.

Below are links to Dulce’s website and publications/other non-published works:

Alice Keski-Valkama

PhD, psychologist, psychotherapist (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Equine Assisted CBT), Finland

Keski-Valkama is a forensic psychologist in Finland. She has over twenty years experience in examining and rehabilitating mentally disordered offenders. She received her Ph.D. from the School of Medicine at the University of Tampere in 2010. She was also awarded the protected occupational title as a psychotherapist at advanced level of competence, and has over ten years experience in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Her special expertises include psychotherapeutic interventions of psychosis, personality disorders, and psychological traumas. She has achieved three years training program for riding therapists organized by the Equine College of Ypäjä in cooperation with the Finnish Association of Equine Facilitated Therapies. Her special interest is to develop the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy in Finland.

Marie-Thérèse Kuypers

Physiotherapist from Belgium involved in a Neurological Paediatrics

Marie-Thérèse is a physiotherapist from Belgium involved in a neurological paediatrics hospital since 1978. In 1980, she introduced horse-therapy in the CHN William Lennox Hospital.
She is a treasurer of “Handhippo”, the National non-profit association of Belgium, and has specialised in horse therapy and is a well-known expert in this field.
She is involved in FRDI-HETI as a board member, a Vice-president and finally a “de jure” member for 20 years. As an expert in Belgium, she continues to help students in high school and university in completing scientific research relevant to this field.

Dr. Jan Yorke


Dr. Jan Yorke is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University in psychology and sociology (BA) and an MSW in social work. She has a PhD from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a specialty in veterinary social work. Her clinical work, over 25 years, has focused on substance use and abuse, concurrent disorders, trauma recovery, HIV/AIDS, First Nations and homelessness. She was a faculty member at the Centre for Continuing Education at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, for 11 years. As an MSW intern at the University of Guelph’s Veterinary College, she was a social worker in the small and large clinics and in the communications lab with 4th year veterinary students. She conducted the Nova Scotia HIV/AIDS policy consultation, completed in 2001. She is currently an assistant professor in Social Work at Laurentian University. Her research program focuses on bio-behavioural, evidence based-approaches to therapeutic interaction and communication, with a particular focus on interspecies interaction, ecological social work and competency development in social work curricula. In 2009 she was invited to present in the UK, at the joint National Institute of Health and Waltham Symposium on Human Animal Interaction, her published article in Early Child Development and Care on human animal interaction and developmental neurobiology in traumatized children. She also headed a task force for the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA) in 2011, which made recommendation regarding their certification/accreditation program for equine facilitated wellness practitioners in mental health, education and certified CanTRA coaches.

Dr. Jacek Łojek


Dr. Jacek Łojek’s professional career is linked to the Warsaw’s University of Life Sciences (WULS), where after graduating from the Faculty of Animal Science, he worked at the Horse Breeding Department from 1980. He received his Ph.D. in 1990 from the same University. He performed as Head of the Horse Breeding Department, as well as Deputy Dean of Studies at the Faculty of Animal Sciences for two terms. His main academic interests focuses on the methods of evaluating the performance and breeding value of race and sport horses, horse behavior, horse parasitology, the history of horse breeding and utilization, the welfare and conditions of horse keeping, the development of the equine industry in Poland. He has supervised 110 Master’s and Bachelor’s dissertations. Apart from classes with students from various faculties of WULS in horse breeding and usage and in the role of animals in art, he holds classes at courses for instructors and trainers of the Polish Equestrian Federation, trainers of racing horses, instructors of hippotherapy and physical recreation in horse riding, as well as various seminars for breeders. He was a member for many years of the Stewards Board at the Służewiec and Sopot racetracks. He works together with the Polish Horse Breeders Association, where he is the member of the Breeding Committee and Stud Book of Wielkopolska horses’ commission, and with the Biebrza National Park, where he has a herd of Konik Polski horses under his investigations. Furthermore, he supervises the Academic Sports Association’s equestrian team of WULS.

Dr. Renate Bender


Dr. Renate Bender, Physiotherapist, member of the “Deutsches Kuratorium für Therapeutisches Reiten”.
Renate Bender is a physiotherapist and received her accreditation from the University of Heidelberg, Germany and from the University of Chile. She is also an experienced horse rider.
She worked in the rehabilitation of neurological patients in Germany, Brazil and Chile, where she introduced Hippotherapy. Currently, she is the Director of Rehabilitation of the Chilean Foundation of Hippotherapy which she co-founded. The Foundation provides 2000 treatments for patients with orthopaedic, neurological, genetic and psychiatric diseases every year.
Renate teaches undergraduate classes in physiotherapy at the University of Chile, for the Faculty of Medicine. She also teaches Postgraduate courses in “Training in Hippotherapy” for health professionals. She has participated as a lecturer in various congresses and has run theoretical and practical courses in Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. She is the author of the book “Hipoterapia” published by Mediterraneo. The book is currently being revised for a second edition.

Pippa Hodge

BSc, Rehab. H.P.C.S

Pippa Hodge is a Pediatric Physiotherapist from British Columbia, Canada. She has a Diploma in Physiotherapist and Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation from St. Mary’s Hospital in London, England and the University of British Columbia respectfully. She was a founding member of Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association, where she runs the Hippotherapy program. Pippa attended the Hippotherapy course in Wilbad, Germany in 1987 to develop the American Hippotherapy Association, where she is a founding member and a current faculty member. In addition she is a CanTRA coach and examiner, a chainman of Hippotherapy Canada, a Neurodevelopmental Treatment trained physiotherapist, a British Horse Society Assistant Instructor and is a clinical specialist in Hippotherapy. She has lectured in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Greece. Pippa currently runs the Hippotherapy program at VTEA, treat infants at the Upper Fraser Valley Child Development Centre, consults for First Nations in the Pemberton area, and rides and trains her two Baska Curlys.

Magdalena Pikul

Psychologist, Special Teacher, Dressage Rider, Horse Riding Instructor

Magdalena is a psychologist, special teacher, dressage rider, horse riding instructor and a trainer of a local Special Olympics Equestrian Team, also a PhD candidate preparing to defend her thesis at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow (Poland).
She conducts Equine Assisted Intervensions in the Special Education and Care Centre in Zbylitowska Góra (near Cracow). Currently she is finishing a PhD thesis in Polish on emotions and inter-species interaction in equitation, their determinants and functions in competitive as well as recreational equestrian sports (expected time of dissertation defence: January 2017). She has also published several articles in Polish related to psychological aspects of equitation. Her major scientific interests include emotions, motivations and psychological functions connected with the relation between human beings and horses. In 2016 she got involved in an international project “HORSE” – “Horse Riding in Special Education for Autistic Children”.