Introducing the Jobe Treatment Ratio for Equine Assisted Services

Introducing the Jobe Treatment Ratio for Equine Assisted Services

Evolving the Role of Equines 

Many of us on the Natural Lifemanship team have been working with equines for decades. We’ve spent much of that time preparing mustangs for domestic life, training horses for ranch work, and partnering with them for equine assisted services.  

Long ago, we moved away from a traditional utilitarian approach to horses, and toward a perspective that seeks to engage horses without the need for fear, domination, and control. This launched the unique approach of Natural Lifemanship (NL) that has flipped the script on how equines participate in healing services.


Understanding Equines as Sentient Partners

Natural Lifemanship developed a way of thinking about how the equine is involved in therapeutic settings that includes the equine’s unique contributions as an individual.  

Not all equines are the same, just like all people are not the same.  

This consideration, of how each participant in a session contributes to the stability or instability of that session, is necessary for providing ethical treatment.  Neither the equine, nor any facilitators, are exempt.


Get to Know the Treatment Team

Today we are sharing what we have named the Jobe Treatment Ratio —a framework for considering all the individuals in a therapeutic session, including the equine.  

The Jobe Treatment Ratio is an attempt at providing a more concrete way to conceptualize the complex fluid relational development between all those involved in a given session, and to recognize how that relationship determines the level of care the team can provide to clients. This model is still oversimplified in many ways, but hopefully provides a snapshot of the complex relational interactions that are flowing through every moment. 

For simplicity, this model assumes a session involving a licensed or certified co-facilitator, equine professional, horse, and client. These roles may differ in reality and therefore the model can be adjusted to help you conceptualize any specific situation. 

When you think about the four individuals involved, then you can start to separate, on a simplistic level, who is there to receive services (client) and who is there to provide services (facilitators).

Facilitators engage in months, if not years, of training and supervision in order to offer services to clients ethically. A client and their facilitators often, either formally or informally, arrive at a social contract of expectations for services, sometimes called an informed consent.  This agreement sets a framework for guiding the professionals in decision-making throughout the process of providing services.

Hopefully, it is clear that the equine professional and therapist are providing services and the

client is receiving. This scenario would create a 2:1 treatment ratio for a session, two individuals providing services for one.


Where Does the Horse Fit In?

Equine Assisted Services are unique – involving not only the professionals and the client, but one or more equines as well.  

So what about the horse in this scenario? On which side of this ratio does the horse fit? 

A horse is not developed in the same way humans are and does not have to commit to a social contract in order to provide or receive services. And yet they are part of this interaction. The question then becomes, are they there to provide services or receive services? 

Well, the answer is complex and fluid from individual to individual—and truly, moment to moment. As humans, we determine our ability to provide services according to the guidance of professional structures and assessments we have created and maintained as a society—as well as in assessing our own personal development. We attempt to determine the ability of equines in similar ways. The development of each horse and human will determine whether or not they are mostly providing services or mostly receiving services. As the moment and environment change, so too do the abilities of each individual involved. This is the complex nature of relational interactions. 

Each individual offering services requires a foundation for understanding the ins and outs of a session, knowing what is expected of them, and having a strong level of communication with other partners.

If the social contract is that the EP and co-facilitator are there to provide services for the client and involve the horse in that process, then it stands to reason that the horse could be part of the treatment team. Proper development of the horse’s thinking skills are necessary for him to be a valid partner on the treatment team. This is not easy, but is possible. 

It is important to ask, can this horse consent to participation? Can this horse move freely, think freely, and communicate freely?  Can this horse understand the expectations of the session?  If you can answer yes to these questions (and others), it is possible for this horse to be a partner in the treatment team.


An Ideal Ratio for Treatment

If the answers above are “yes,”  then we have the possibility of a 3:1 treatment ratio, where 3 individuals (EP, co-facilitator, and horse) are supporting and providing services for 1 client. 

Vital to the quality of services that are offered is the relational development between these three members of the treatment team.  This relationship cannot be picked up and put down at will. Conscious effort and ongoing team development are necessary.

The model below for the 3:1 ratio represents just one of an infinite number of ways this could look. If we have done significant work with EP, co-facilitator, and horse, then they can all work in unison to serve the client and you have an understanding and communication about how they are achieving this in every moment. 

Yes, we contend that equines can develop to this level. It takes intentional practice, building an equine’s ability to maintain his sensitivity and think for himself, which is only possible when we let go of outdated ideas of domination and control in human-horse interactions.

Notice in the diagram below, the quality of therapeutic or “safe” space made possible when the horse, equine professional and co-facilitator are well-developed as a team.  Maintaining connection in a well established relationship takes little energy, while building connection in a newer relationship can require much more attunement, focus, and regulation.  

In a well developed ratio of 3:1, the treatment team has significant energy free to devote to the client, rather than diverting it to support each other during a session.




When the Horse is Not a Part of the Treatment Team

We would say that it is more common that equines in these settings have not yet developed enough to easily create and sustain connection with others while maintaining their own autonomy. Therefore, they are unable to hold the same understanding as the EP and co-facilitator in a therapeutic setting.

If, as is common, the horse has not yet developed this skill set, then a closer representation would be a 2:2 treatment ratio. With a 2:2 treatment ratio, the EP and co-facilitator are having to extend themselves a bit more to provide support for the client as well as the horse in session. 

The 2:2 model below shows one way that this could look. Notice the shift in energy and focus particularly for what the Equine Professional can offer the client, as well as what the horse can offer the client.



In a Less Developed Team

Finally, if the humans in the treatment team are not well developed (either personally or relationally) we may devolve into a situation where each member believes they are having to support and offer treatment to everyone else involved. Then the situation may more closely resemble the dreaded 1:3 ratio. 

At this ratio, we are doing our clients a real disservice. Below is one way this could be represented. It is referred to as the model of the 1:3 ratio. 

Keep in mind this is one way this situation could evolve. There are many other possibilities, including if the co-facilitator is less experienced working experientially, working with horses, or working in a team. Their energies may be less predictable as well.



You can also see how the quality of the relationship between the members of the treatment team affects each member’s ability to offer support to the client. Notice how it affects the ability of the team to create a safe space for the client. The cohesiveness, personal development, and team communication present in a treatment team vastly influences the quality of services offered.


Assess Your Team

Insert your treatment team into this model and determine what your development and percentages might be. Notice which human-horse combinations put you at a 3:1 treatment ratio and which combinations put you at a 2:2 ratio. Also, consider scenarios that would put you at 1:3 and work on growing out of those. 

This should help you and your team grow together towards that ideal 3:1 ratio. Perhaps in exploring these ratios, you and your team will pinpoint a few of the areas that may need more work outside of the session. 

Also consider how things change (dramatically!) if you include more than one equine, or more than one client.  This is why, ethically, it may not make sense for a facilitator to work without an EP—or for only one or two professionals to offer services to big groups of people and/or equines.  Imagine the complex web of energy necessary for providing connection and a safe space to a whole family, group, or herd!  

Each facilitator, equine professional, equine, and client will come with their own histories, tendencies, and needs. Hopefully, the professionals also come with a clear self-awareness and understanding of their equine’s abilities and limitations so as to create an ethical therapeutic environment.

While this concept of ratios is simplified, it should make the ideas adaptable to whatever scenario you find yourself in, helping you and your team gain greater awareness of where your energy is going during a session and how you can all develop toward a ratio that better supports your clients.


Learn more in Our Upcoming Webinar

Tanner Jobe will be hosting a webinar on August 3, 2022, at 5pm CST where he explores the ratios illustrated above, and answers your questions. This is a great opportunity to dive more deeply into the concepts presented here.  Sign up here.



We are Preparing a Place for You

We are Preparing a Place for You

“We believe in the important work of Natural Lifemanship and have been coming together in prayer about how we can help you expand. Could we help you get a place for your headquarters?”

A place.  

A gift of place. . .

This was the beginning of a conversation Tim and I had with Dawn and Ron Robson, with That’s the Dream Farm, over a year ago.   This was the beginning of the promise of land––of a place to shape and form and transform us––all of us.  Here a powerful partnership and kinship began.  

These words put into motion a sacred promise for, and to, our growing community, because place builds people.  Place builds tribes.  The longing for and love of place is profoundly human, and akin to our most basic need for belonging.


We Had No Specific Place   


For years people have told us that they wanted to come to a training at “The Natural Lifemanship place.”  

The problem? We have never had just one place.  

Through the years over 50 different people/organizations have hosted our trainings.  They have cared for us, contributed to the accessibility and furthering of this powerful work, and rich relationships have been built.  Indeed, many of my closest friends were met through these partnerships.  

However, in 2020 much of our training was moved online as we pivoted during the Pandemic.  This allowed for a depth and breadth of learning not possible before. 

The shift to online learning was great. . . mostly.  

As more and more connections and communications were made virtually, I felt untethered at times.  We found ourselves longing for an NL home like never before.  In our increasingly virtual world, we learned that place matters now more than ever.  

More than ever.

Not just any kind of place but one we can call home—and one we can build with you in mind.

(By the way, regional trainings at our amazing partner sites will certainly continue.)


Place Matters


Intuitively, we know that place matters, that the actual land on which we stand shapes us and that we shape it.  Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss, says that “Where we are affects who we are.” He has spent many years researching how our actual location affects our creativity, our spirituality, and our happiness.  

We find that at certain places time is expansive and connection is all that matters.  These places change us and gift us the inspiration needed to create; a work of art, a new relationship, a new life.  We are inspired to heal and guide others as they do the same.  

The wide open spaces in the Panhandle of Texas, the Grand Canyon, Hanging Lakes in Colorado, the waters of Juniper Run, the castles of Germany, and the mountains of Austria are some of these places for me––sacred ground that has the power to transcend our relationship with time, with ourselves, and with the Divine.  

I believe sometimes the very ground calls out “come here and be transformed.” These are the places that tether us to each other, to this life, to those who came before us, and those who will follow.  

We need places like this.


Place Deepens Connection 


Tim often tells the story of when his oldest daughter moved to Utah and he had not yet seen where she was living.  His mind was not at peace until he visited her and saw the places in which she moved on a daily basis.  He needed to see and feel her home.  He felt uneasy until he could place her when he thought of her.  

I too have felt this with our children. Sending our kids to school during the pandemic was just gut-wrenching, partially because we could not see where they would be spending their day.  

Both of our children have done better with separation when they have seen where we are working.  Our little girl once said with tears in her eyes, “but I don’t know where you’ll be!,” as I left for work.  Our internal sense of connection and safety is stronger when we can place others.

Eric Weiner cites research done in Finland that found that 82% of phone conversations contain some version of the question “Where are you?”  If I’m on a zoom call in a new environment, people almost always ask me “Where are you?”

Why do people ask this?  Why does it matter?

Why do people ask to train at “The Natural Lifemanship place?”

I think it’s because we can better connect when we can place the person with whom we are seeking connection.  For example, I find it harder to connect with a person who has a fake or blurred out background on zoom.  By contrast, at our virtual Grief and Love conference we wanted a very intimate, community experience so I met with attendees in our living room. 

We are not just individual beings wandering the world, but connected creatures existing in a specific context.  Our context matters.  Where we are, how we connect with the environment around us, the places that we belong to—all influence who we are, how we feel, and how we connect with each other.

Connection is predicated on finding our place and allowing ourselves to be placed.  It is our hope that moving forward, as an organization, you can always place us.


So, a Place Was Purchased


After a ton of searching, That’s the Dream Ranch, LLC closed on 73 acres just outside of Brenham, Texas in November of 2021.  The most magical creek you have ever seen splits and borders the property.  The main meeting place, with antique furniture and a wrap-around porch, overlooks a lovely pond and a hay pasture.  The covered arena is straight up dreamy and is overlooked by a conference room, full of windows and too many chandeliers.  A quaint 12 bedroom Inn is nestled up against the creek, and all I can say is that I am in love.  All kinds of intelligent and majestic trees create little spaces all over the property that call us to come, and sit, and be. 

However, there is plenty of work to be done, and so construction has been initiated to create a place for you–– a sacred and fertile place for healing, growth, change, and transcendence.  This place will be all about experience and all about home––the kind of home you carry in your heart, that connects you to your core self–– a self that is part of the landscape you occupy, part of a larger body committed to making the world a better place. 

Natural Lifemanship is a community with roots, and now we get to build a home.  A place where you can find us, be with us. A place where we belong together.


The Healing of Place


Place has the power to do all kinds of amazing things, but with power comes great responsibility.  

As clinicians, our personal healing is the foundation for doing healing work with others––the same is true of the land.  Place has the power to be the beginning of new life if our love of place is fierce, so fierce that we will do the hard work of restoration.  The hard work of healing. 

With the help of That’s the Dream Ranch and in partnership with Leopold Land Management and the National Resources Conservation Service (a USDA agency) a major transformation is underway––demolition or repurposing of the things that no longer serve us, pruning, planting, and lots and lots of nurture.  We are committed to the messiness and the absolute beauty of healing.  We are committed to you.   

At Natural Lifemanship, it has always been about a way of being in the world. About principles and values.  

Therefore, we are building a place, a home, with the same intentions.  Our place—guided by our values where connection is seen and felt in everything we do.

And in our place, we are preparing a place for you.


Save the Date!  

The Natural Lifemanship Conference “Sacred Landscapes: Honoring the Places Within Us and Around Us” will take place April 12th – 15th in 2023. Registration opens soon and we hope you can join us.