About us

The Equiano experience

Equiano delivers unique experiential learning events for individuals and teams to build leadership and teamwork skills by working in partnership with horses.

Using specially trained horses to facilitate hands-on learning and insights through our evidence-based workshops, we help clients develop ‘EQ’ and other important ‘soft skills’ essential for high performance teams. With no horse-riding involved, all activities are ‘on the ground’ and fully supervised.

Equiano is led by Clare Harding, Stacey Tolley and Marylou Verberne, combining the skills of horsemanship, leadership, management, strategy and behavioural change.

Dr Clare Harding

Dr Clare Harding, an ex-McKinsey consultant, Rhodes Scholar and startup adviser, is an experienced facilitator with longstanding interest in the role that EQ plays in individual and organisational performance.

Stacey Tolley is an expert horsewoman who has been riding; coaching in dressage, show jumping and cross country; and rehabilitating former racehorses and problem horses since she was first popped in a saddle at 18 months old.

Marylou Verberne

Marylou Verberne is a former lawyer with many years’ experience in the corporate and non-profit sectors working on the science and practice of change – for individual and team performance, and for bottom-line and social outcomes. 


No. There is no riding in any of our workshops – all contact with our carefully trained horses is in an arena and fully supervised. Equiano is designed first and foremost for people who are “not horse people” and are unfamiliar with horses (but we also welcome those who are). We are experienced working with people who are intimidated by horses – meeting people ‘where they are at’ and gently building their confidence in the arena. We never push people into activities they are not comfortable with.

Depending on the focus of the workshop, you can expect to learn a number of new things about yourself and your teammates. However, our participants often report they gain insights and new thinking around confidence and efficacy; innovation and creative thinking; communication and cooperation; conflict resolution and problem solving; empathy and authenticity; and motivation and goal setting.

Equiano workshops are typically tailored to individual client needs. Please contact us for detailed pricing.

We run workshops from several boutique equestrian facilities (all with fully-covered indoor arenas) on the outskirts of Melbourne and in country Victoria. For teams on overnight retreats, we often work from arenas near conference facilities.

Most Equiano workshops run across a full day, from approximately 9.30am to 4pm. We also work with clients to co-design multi-session programs tailored specifically to your organisation’s needs, and we offer one on one intensive workshops.

I’m a big believer in the value of experiential learning, and my interactions with these incredible animals and facilitators taught me so much about myself, about getting out of our own way, being present, and above all, about connection with others.

Rearn Norman, Psychologist – Leadership Development – Coach – Speaker – Facilitator at Centre for Leadership Advantage

I am so, so changed by this experience. I have never learned as much about myself as a leader as I did with these horses and these incredible women. I have always known that kindness is powerful. But I never realised that to be powerful is also a kindness.

Nikki May, Head of Creative, Fisher Leadership – Founding Communications Director, International Women’s Forum Australia

Highly recommend equine assisted learning as an engaging and unique experience for developing leaders and teams. The entire team were fabulous and supportive and the stunning horses were magnificent!

Julie Egonidis, Executive Education Leadership, Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne

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