Horse Sense for Humans

aka The Equus Effect, Inc.   |   Sharon, CT   |


To provide veterans and others in high-stress situations with essential tools to meet life’s challenges and build healthy relationships through purposeful engagement with horses.

Ruling year info


Co-Founder, Executive Director

Ms. Jane Alison Strong

Program Director, Senior Instructor, Trainer & Clinician

Mr. David Sonatore LCSW

Main address

37 Drum Rd

Sharon, CT 06069 USA

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NTEE code info

Mental Health Association, Multipurpose (F80)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The latest data on suicides among veterans reports that the rate has not dropped in the past 10 years. We know that suicide is the result of lost hope, lost connection to others and loss of meaning and purpose. We also believe that horses can provide a bridge back to life by offering vets the chance to rebuild healthy relationships through honesty and a willingness to learn a new way of 'being' in their lives. By teaching vets real horsemanship skills through ground-based exercises and activities, veterans have the chance to go from surviving to thriving. We believe that working with horses in this mindful, experiential way can accelerate their journeys from all forms of war to peace in their lives. We also believe that through our unique, structured curriculum, the people we serve can become resourceful and fulfilled as contributing members of their families and communities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Equus Effect for Veterans

Our primary offering is a peer-to-peer program with our facilitators, horses and other vets who work as a team to accelerate the journey home to family and community.

Our five-session curriculum is designed to introduce the principles of natural horsemanship as a way to help vets gain the trust, respect and willingness to collaborate from those with whom they live and work. We and our equine partners demonstrate the value of using finesse vs. force and cooperation vs. control.

We also educate our veteran students with life-changing insight and information around managing their emotion(s). Our Emotional Agility presentation, based on the work of Karla McLaren, Linda Kohanov and our head instructor David Sonatore, LCSW, is approachable, engaging and incredibly useful.

We believe that If veterans can learn to use emotions the way horses do – as information to help them stay alive, set healthy boundaries, support one another in times of need – there would be no need to stay stuck in the stories we often tell about what we might have done differently in the past or what may or may not happen in the future.

We all have a lot to learn about being present to what’s happening right now from our horses – especially those who never had the time or tools available to unwind and renew their reserves of emotional and mental energy.

Population(s) Served
Emergency responders


Whether a woman is transitioning from the military, making her way out of an unhealthy relationship, recovering from issues linked to substance abuse or working with others in the healing arts, we will meet her wherever she is on her journey.

All of what we do here is centered on rebuilding healthy relationships and we have specific exercises that address a woman’s ability to set healthy boundaries or ask for what you want without getting upset. Our goal is to help women find their own voices by becoming more grounded, clearer and more connected to their own wishes. We help break through self-limiting patterns and help our clients see for themselves what happens when they change.

Horses provide instant, honest feedback so that when a woman changes her approach and behavior, the change is apparent to all. As prey animals, horses are extremely sensitive to the intentions and emotional congruence of those around them, so it’s easy to make changes in real time, right now.

Women who find themselves in the position of supporting others’ work to become whole and to live satisfying lives are often in need of support for compassion fatigue. Healthy boundaries are key, but so is a good dose of equine facilitated learning to rebuild appreciation for oneself, not just what one can do for others.

Continuing Education Units are in the works for this program.

* Healing Arts Program is funded by practitioners and agencies.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

This program is for those who are ready and willing to deal with the futility of self-medicating through drugs, alcohol and other compulsive behaviors.

Working with horses demands emotional honesty and a willingness to face fears and vulnerability. It also takes patience and focus to cultivate the clarity of intention that horses require in order to gain their trust.

By developing relationship skills that are necessary to stay sober and become contributing members of society, veterans and others in recovery find a new lens through which to view the future...natually.

We have offered our curriculum to men and women in recovery from a local treatment center for the past 18 months and these programs help offset the cost of working with veterans free of charge. We understand from the clinicians at this facility that our work is a great complement for what they teach about accountability and taking on challenges as a means to stay sober.
In addition, we are initiating a program specifically for veterans who have a history of substance abuse, which is often their first line of defense against the difficulty of making the journey from war to peace.

We are very aware of the fact that learning how to manage one's emotions, set boundaries and create healthy relationships is the greatest insurance against returning to drugs and alcohol.

Population(s) Served

A training program for new facilitators who want to deliver this unique, comprehensive curriculum. New facilitators have a working knowledge of issues veterans face upon returning home , first responders, military sexual trauma, substance abusers and/or cancer survivors.

We also train horse professionals who are interested in collaborating with clinicians to form a partnership that is well-equipped to serve these populations.

Our training program is essential to the growth of The Equus Effect in that fees offset the costs associated with our veterans program and it helps us broaden our reach to veterans in other parts of the United States.

Population(s) Served

This year, in response to the current crisis facing us in the US and around the world, we are offering the same tools and experiential learning we employ with veterans and first responders to the men and women who are serving on the frontlines at home. We understand the similarities and differences between soldiers and healthcare workers and are addressing the needs of those in our communities with an adaptation of our program that is delivered in a more flexible format for those who are currently employed.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

NATIONAL ACCESS - Our aim is to offer this program on a national basis - at military bases and at therapeutic riding centers where veterans and others in transition from one phase of life to the next will be able to 'reboot' for life at home and in their communities.

PROGRAMS FOR FAMILIES - We plan to offer this curriculum to significant others and caregivers to military personnel in order to further hone their relationship skills and to convey the importance of awareness and understanding in communication. This curriculum will adhere to the same principles and tools for self-management and emotional regulation as our primary offering, but would focus on specific issues that couples and families must face together.

We would like our program to be available to every person (and his or her significant others) who is/are willing to CHANGE and WORK to become better partners, parents, co-workers and leaders.

FRONTLINE WORKERS - We recognize that more and more people are impacted by the traumatic events that have taken us from being safe and secure (for the most part) to extremely vulnerable. Our healthcare and essential workers have been cast into new roles and are suddenly viewed in a new light because of this situation. Uncertainty on the battlefield is not dissimilar to the uncertainty all of us face now. THOSE warriors now include us....whether we signed up to serve or not. We aim to give these brave men and women a chance to renew their energy, restore their ability to regulate their emotions and of course, enjoy the relief that touch brings to any and all of us who need to settle down. We may be serving Warriors from all Walks of Life for a long time, and we are willing and able to do so.

Our strategies include:

TRAINING - Train more facilitators who are qualified to work with veterans, people in recovery and others in transition and are also located in disparate geographic areas. We include peer counselors and clinicians who are qualified to become facilitators.

We plan to include graduate programs for veterans and people in recovery to train as facilitators and current trainers to teach others so that we can build our capacity to serve more men and women.

FACILITY IMPROVEMENT - Make our own facility available year-round so that we are not weather dependent. This would allow us to train new facilitators here at our location, continue to serve veterans and provide revenue-generating programs to clinicians and people in recovery 12 months a year. This would add at least $10,000 to our tuition fund for veterans and save at least $10,000 per year for space we now rent in order to train new instructors.

We now have seven facilitators who are serving as instuctors and are developing a course for them to train other trainers.

We are hosting a research pilot study through the VA and Yale that is scheduled to begin in Spring 2021. While we are conducting that study here, the Director of Clinical Psychology at the VA has asked us to identify and train facilitators at other test sites. We already have two that are suitable and will be looking for more as the country continues its process of opening up.

While we are able to serve those who need our time and attention in the areas we serve now, we will soon need more staff, more trainers and more volunteers at new locations as we reach into other areas of the country.

We have three instructors and administrative staff at our main facility in Sharon to train new facilitators, volunteers and serve our current populations. We expect instructors at other locations to take our train-the-trainers program and to launch new facilitators within their organizations once they have graduated from our advanced training program.

We have grown substantially in the past five years:
from serving 21 vets to 250.

We have moved from 1 location in 2013 to 7 by the end of 2019

We have strong relationships with Veterans Administration Healthcare
Systems and Veterans Centers in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York and Massachusetts

We work with the VA as well as with two national Veteran Service Organizations - Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Team Red, White and Blue.

We are teaching the principles and tools of this program as it applies specifically to business situations at the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV).

We presented our work to at the 29th Annual International Trauma Conference in 2018.

We earn partial support for veterans' tuition by offering our program for a fee to people in the recovery community

We would like support in the form of monetary contributions as well as insight and ideas from veterans in leadership positions in the 'Sea of Goodwill'.



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Board of directors
as of 2/26/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Patricia CaffreyGaney

The Next Step

Term: 2021 - 2023

Gaylord Meyer

Southport Estate Caretakers

Oscar Martinez


Priscilla McCord

Jeffrey Earls

Patty Ganey

The Next Step, LLC

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 07/07/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Gender identity

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/07/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.