About Us

The HERD Institute Vision, Mission & Values

Our Vision: To create a global community, of students and practitioners for Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning, committed to furthering the work of the pioneers of our field.

Our Mission: The HERD Institute offers an inclusive environment, embraces an attitude of abundance, and honors the potential of all its members. We aim for Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning (EFPL) to be recognized as an empirically based treatment and educational modality. The HERD Institute provides exceptional training to the next generation of EFPL Practitioners, and inspires professional and personal transformations. The HERD Institute supports its members to develop the integrity of their personal philosophy, expand their knowledge and skills, and broaden their horizons through continuous learning and practice.

Our Values: Our core values are centered on a passion for learning, compassion for our fellow beings, and the commitment to professional and personal development.

“ I was absolutely blown away by what I learned. The amount of knowledge the faculty had and how they presented it was just wonderful. I learned a lot about the process and myself! It really makes you think twice about the power of horses as a therapeutic tool and what they can help you realize about yourself. I look forward to attending more events! ”

SM, Workshop Participant

“I will never forget sitting next to you and the horse, and looking at everyone as they assured me of their support, and feeling an overwhelming sense of connection with and immense love for every single person there. Thank you, for a life altering experience!”

RR, Training Participant

“Veronica held an incredible space for us to flex and play and explore. We know how much our clients gain from doing this work. We've come away stronger and more solid than ever before. Veronica, thank you, you rock! So much gratitude for the love and laughter. ”

JJ, Retreat Participant

“I loved how you let the group go at its own pace, and took the time to get to know each participant. Your openness to questions, and to learning from the group as well as sharing your knowledge and experience made it a very pleasant experience for me. I really noticed the difference in my practice following the training, and I keep remembering phrases that came up as part of the teaching. Thank you so much for an inspiring weekend.”

CF, Training Participant


Founder & Executive Director of The HERD Institute:

3Veronica Lac, PhD. LPC has 20 years of experience as a corporate trainer and mental health professional, as well as a certified therapeutic riding instructor, providing her with an integrated perspective to EFPL. Her academic background includes a Masters in Training and Performance Management, a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy, and a PhD in Psychology. She is trained in a number of models in EFPL including a mentorship in Adventures in Awareness with Barbara Rector, a pioneering influence in this field, and certification through the Gestalt Equine Institute of the Rockies. This has allowed her to combine her theoretical understanding into a relational and embodied approach to EFPL.  Veronica is passionate about working with clients to enable them to reach their full potential, and is an experienced corporate trainer offering one-to-one coaching and organizational consultancy. Clients range from large corporate businesses to individuals, couples and families.

Veronica was a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist in the United Kingdom, and since moving to the United States in 2011, has gained licensure as a professional counselor and completed her PhD in Psychology through Saybrook University. She specializes in working with eating disorders, trauma, and attachment and has developed equine and canine assisted programs for at-risk adolescents in collaboration with residential treatment centers and eating disorder clinics. She is also a PATH registered therapeutic riding instructor for clients with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities. Veronica is passionate about research in the field of equine facilitated psychotherapy and has multiple publications internationally in peer-reviewed journals.

Faculty Member:

Elisabeth Crabtree MSc., GEP, MIAEB, AISRB 

1In addition to a long career as a Business & Management consultant, Elisabeth also has extensive experience teaching at colleges and universities. Elisabeth combines her life-long horsemanship skills with her business experience in order to develop equine-facilitated programs. She works with individuals and groups, with an emphasis on professional and business development, communication skills, and team building. A lifelong equestrian, Elisabeth is certified through the Gestalt Equine Institute of the Rockies in Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy (GEP), holds an OK Corral Series certification in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) & Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), as well as a Masters in Education & Training. She is an official coach with the International Society of Rider Biomechanics, a founding member of the International Association of Equestrian Biomechanics, and a Certified Equine First Aid Instructor through Equi-Health Canada, all of which supports her somatically based approach to EFPL.

Chris Goodall, LISW-S


Chris is a licensed independent social work supervisor, certified by the equine assisted growth and learning association as both a mental health professional and an equine specialist and a member of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.  She has worked in community based, inpatient, and residential behavioral health settings.  Chris is currently employed by the Louis Stokes Cleveland DVAMC working in the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center where she initiated an equine-facilitated psychotherapy program.  Chris is a lecturer for Lake Erie College for the Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning program, and is in private practice offering both traditional and equine-facilitated psychotherapy services.

Teaching Assistant

René Porchowsky, MSW, LSW

2René attained her undergraduate degree at Asbury University in Social Work and Equine Business Management, and went on to complete a Masters of Social Work through The Ohio State University. René is gaining experience as a Clinical Case Worker and working towards her LISW licensure. She is an experienced equine professional and has worked in the field of Equine-Facilitated Learning as an Equine Specialist, and led Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy sessions during her time with the Buckeye Ranch in Ohio. Her clinical experience has focused on working with children and adolescents. René specializes in working with individuals who have experienced trauma, those who are deemed at-risk, and individuals within the court system. She brings her skills and knowledge into The HERD Institute as a Teaching Assistant to the core faculty.

HERD Institute Graduates

Dr. Megan McRae is a licensed clinical psychologist in New York working at Rubenzahl, Knudsen, and Associates Psychological Services. She provides individual, couple, and family therapy for children, adolescent, and adult clients, as well as conducts psychological assessments to assist in diagnosis and treatment planning and in sexual abuse validations. Dr. McRae offers equine facilitated therapy with her current practice, as well as organizes workshops on topics to include grief and loss and strengthening relationships.




IMG_1247Reba is a 15 year old AQHA chestnut mare, whose registered name is Star Dually. She has had an extensive career, having been a broodmare, reining and cutting show horse, and a kids lesson and trail horse. She has been enjoying a well deserved quieter pace of life in the last 4 years. Reba has moved with Veronica from Virginia to Ohio and has been introduced to therapy work with adults and children. She is a sweet natured girl and loves to be groomed and loved on, and has a generous heart for those in need of her wisdom. With her markings of a white blaze and four white stockings, she brings a distinctive flair to the herd.  Reba excels in teaching participants about what it means to trust another in relationship.


CheyenneCheyenne is a 9 year old quarter horse mare with a gentle and loving soul. She has most recently been a lesson horse for all ages of riders, as well as being part of a summer camp program for children. She was also part of a therapeutic riding program for students with physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges. Cheyenne is almost blind in her right eye but this doesn’t stop her from living life to the full. She is a curious and attentive girl who loves to interact with everyone around her.  Cheyenne has been introduced to therapy work with adolescents and is a master at teaching the importance of boundaries, self regulation, and the impact of one’s actions within relationships. With her stunning white mane, she could easily be mistaken for a unicorn, and is almost as magical!


fullsizerender-3ARROW is a 10 year old quarter horse gelding with a calm and sweet disposition. He was rescued from a bad situation, and retrained as a trail and ranch horse. His willing demeanor and curious spirit makes him a wonderful addition to the herd. Always the first at the gate to meet and greet newcomers, his energy and playfulness shines through. He is eager to please and even more eager for treats! Arrow is settling in to his role as a HERD equine partner and is proving to be a natural at his new job. He brings his big, powerful, and solid presence into each interaction with complete authenticity.