Where is Starting Gate?
Starting Gate is currently operating at the same location as the Nebraska Non-Profit Organization, L5 Youth Ranch. We believe in giving back to the community and are in full support of L5 Youth Ranch –  a portion of the registration fees for Starting Gate programs is donated back to L5 Youth Ranch. Starting Gate is independently owned and operated.

What is EAL?
Equine-Assisted Learning is a learner based educational experience with horses. More specifically, EAL is an effective approach to human development that  encourages individual and team growth. Participants engage in objectively driven exercises and find themselves learning valuable life skills in a fun and exciting atmosphere while working with horses.

OK great, what does that actually mean?
Our trained facilitators will work with your team or group to pinpoint the specific skills you want to work on. We have programs tailored for fine tuning skills such as verbal communication, non-verbal communication, teamwork, leadership, active listening, and much more. We take time in the arena working side by side with horses to practice these skills, then have a group discussion afterwards.


Taylor and one of the Starting Gate teachers, Mika

Wait – who are you again?
I’m Taylor Thompson, owner and head facilitator with Starting Gate. I am so excited to work with you and help you open the gate to unforgettable learning!

Why Horses?
Horses have many natural survival instincts that cause them to continusouly be scanning their surroundings and consistently reacting to stimulus provided by their enviroment – including stimulus given off by EAL participants. Horses don’t judge but they constantly assess. Their feedback is honest and instant. Learning to listen to what horses have to say is powerful and can sometimes spur the answer to individual change.
By including horses in specially designed educational exercises, equine-assisted facilitators have greatly multiplied the participant’s rate of success to self discovery.

Horses have been working along side humans for centuries. We’ve grown together over the years to be able to communicate and understand each other, and horses often seek out humans for companionship and to form strong bonds. Horses can magnify an individual’s problem immediately and provide a skilled facilitator with an opportunity to identify an individual’s struggle. Horses don’t over think a participant’s motive but horses do challenge their behavior and leadership. Under the guidance of your Certified EAL Facilitator, you can open the gates to unforgettable learning!

What is the structure of EAL Worldwide?
Every Equine Assisted Learning Certified Facilitator must meet the requirements set out by the EAL Network. Starting Gate founder, Taylor Thompson, was certified in Ontario Canada in November 2016 and was the first to bring this program to Nebraska.

But I’m afraid of horses! 
Thats OK! Horses are large and powerful animals. Many people are nervous or downright afraid of them. We will work with you and work through your fear or nerves. Participants work in a team and there are many ways to be involved. Come on out and give it a try – you may surprise yourself!

When do we get to ride the horses?
Since our horses are the teachers at Starting Gate, we don’t ride them. Instead, we work side by side with them as part of a team together. This way our teachers can communicate directly with us at eye level.

What if I am allergic?
Knowing is half the battle! Just be sure to take an antihistamine before you come. Taylor Thompson, your head facilitator and owner of Starting Gate has had allergies to all animal dander and hay since she was a child. With a good antihistamine, she’s just fine. We also have allergy medication on site.

What to wear:
All of our EAL activities take place in a classroom environment and outside in an outdoor arena. There is sand, dirt, wind and leaves and yes, horse hair. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting a little dusty and closed toe shoes are a must.

How long are the programs?
A single day’s activity will be about an hour and a half depending on the specific skill being worked on. Programs can be tailored for your groups needs. We can run a single day program running that approximate 90 minutes, or up to a 12 week program and anything in between. Contact us to find out options and learn what will work best for your group.

How big or small does my group need to be?
We are currently certified for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 8 participants at a time. If your group is larger than 8, we can work out a rotational basis to  get everyone in.

Do you have any research to back up this program?
We sure do! Check this out from our friends and certified school – Equine Connection.

Location and hours:
Starting Gate is located near Hickman NE. We are by appointment only, the actual address of  our facility will be given to you upon registration for a program. Our facilities are outdoors, so we run on a seasonal basis. Typically programs are available late May – early October depending on weather. Backup dates for your programs will be offered in case of inclement weather.

OK, lets do this:
Fill out our contact form and a Starting Gate representative will be in contact within 48 business hours.