Life Lessons We Can Learn from Animals


Several years ago, Allison White went to a retreat center called The Equine Experience. There, she learned about and experienced the power and intelligence of horses. What she learned intrigued her, so she began reading more about horses and equine therapy. She even met with a local therapist to see how she used her horses for team-building to help people learn to work together and to find out how she uses horses to help her clients overcome obstacles.

Today’s guest, Dr. Aviva Vincent, is a therapist who grew up with a horse and experienced first-hand how that helped her through many of life’s challenges. Later on in her life, that experience guided her education, research, and career.

There are many life lessons that we can learn from animals. Be sure to join me today as I speak to Aviva about horses, equine therapy, and the power of collaborating with horses to heal.

Show highlights:

  • Aviva gives us some of her background and explains how she got started with equine therapy.
  • Aviva explains how she used the link between interpersonal violence and animal abuse to reflect on her own childhood experiences.
  • Aviva explains why she encourages every student who reaches out to her to find a mentor.
  • I share what I learned about horses several years ago at the Equine Experience retreat center. That experience led me to read more about equine therapy and the power of using horses to heal.
  • Aviva describes the different models for equine-assisted services and talks about what she loves doing the most.
  • Aviva talks about the difference between behavior and magic.
  • Aviva discusses a research study that Fieldstone has recently begun in partnership with NYU to understand the link between interpersonal violence and animal abuse. It is a continuation of the research that she did in her doctoral program. They are using a unique strategy to unpack and learn about the magic that helps young people with anxiety, to self-regulate or manage their feelings and emotions when they are riding.
  • Aviva explains what someone interested in equine therapy can expect from a typical session.
  • Aviva talks about the grant available at Fieldstone so that no veterans ever have to pay for the service they offer.
  • Aviva talks about the project she’s working on currently that excites her the most.
  • With all the different things that she is involved with, Aviva explains what she does to take care of herself.

Biography: Dr. Aviva Vincent

Dr. Aviva Vincent is a doctoral graduate of Case Western Reserve University, Mandel School of Social Welfare in veterinary social work. Her research focuses on the biological impact that animals have on children, specifically in the reduction of fear and anxiety in stressful situations. Additionally, her research includes integration of physiological measures in social science research (e.g. saliva collection for measures of oxytocin, alpha-amylase, and cortisol).

She is co-owner and founder of Healing Paws, LLC, the only Veterinary Social Work practice in Northeast Ohio. Her background in veterinary social work informs her practice as the Director of Program Quality at Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. In this capacity, she is responsible for ensuring high-quality programs in adaptive riding, hippotherapy, carriage driving, and ground lessons offered to over 1,000 participants annually.

She is an instructor of Animal Assisted Interventions at the University of Tennessee in the Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program. Aviva serves as the co-chair of the human-animal interactions work-group with the National Association of Social Workers-Ohio chapter and serves on the board of the International Association of Veterinary Social Work.

Links, resources, and contact info:


  • Memories

Little Victories

Chosen by a Horse

The Tao of Equus

Horse Crazy

Crossing the Line

Hope Rising

Eighty-Dollar Champion

  • Stories

The Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse

  • Mental Health/Social Work and Horses

Zen Mind, Zen Horse

HERD Institute Books:

The Clinical Practice of Equine Assisted Therapy and Workbook


  • Fieldstone (horses)
  • Attached are photos covering a few of our programs: Veterans programming, ground-based programming, adaptive riding, and our mobile minis. (please include the photos in social media)

Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center: Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center | A horse can change a life.

Fieldstone, Veterans video: Fieldstone Farm 2017 VA Edit FINAL 1080 – YouTube

Reining in Anxiety (research study)

 General video of Fieldstone on YouTube

Dr. Vincent’s website

Healing Paws LLC website

International Association of Veterinary Social Work (membership is free to join through June 1, 2021!)