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Through sustained investment in rigorous research, HHRF serves as a catalyst to advance global knowledge of horse-human interactions and their impact on health and wellness.

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The primary goal is to support, promote and fund scientific research that explores the claimed, yet unsubstantiated benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapies, leading to the discovery of the most effective methods and techniques for conducting thousands of existing and future programs.

The secondary goal is to educate the public (including parents, donors, insurance companies and physicians) on research findings so that equine-assisted activities become more accessible to those in need.



In 2002 a group of people, led by Molly Sweeney’s vision, gathered in Arizona intent on developing a plan to promote research in the field of equine-assisted activities/therapies. The prevailing philosophy in the organization’s founding stages was that when the resources, contacts and support are provided for quality research, quality research would result. A plan was drafted for a public foundation dedicated to developing, funding and promoting this research.

By 2004, the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) attained 501(c)3 nonprofit status, contracted a project manager and established a central office in Cleveland, Ohio. HHRF was then blessed with a significant gift, offered anonymously as a challenge fund, matching dollar for dollar any donor’s contribution.

The following year, the board was expanded, financial and operational policies and procedures were established, a website, newsletters and brochures were created, an annual fundraising campaign was established, a grant management process was adapted and a call for proposals was announced. HHRF awarded its first grant in late 2006 to a unique and promising project led by a team from the University of St. Louis.

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