After recognizing the importance of professional research to support the results from equine assisted activities and therapies EAA/T, Sweeney gathered like-minded individuals with the intent to create a plan to promote research. It was under her leadership and dedication that the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) was born. As a 501(c)3 non-profit, HHRF offers grants for scientific research on the therapeutic relationship between horses and humans.
"We are most pleased that Molly Sweeney has been selected to receive the Humanitarian Award for 2011 for her dedication and tireless work with equine assisted activities and therapies, and her leadership in establishing the Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF)," said Jenny Belknap Kees, Chairman of the Board of The EQUUS Foundation.
"HHRF's work on validating the influence of horses on human health will transform the value and purpose of equines in our culture."
As a result of support from this internationally recognized foundation, controlled, rigorous research is now published in peer review journals. Sweeney recognized early on that all EAA/T progress would hinge on learning the facts, not relying on anecdotal input. The EAA/T field could not move forward without developing evidence-informed practices through the highest levels of published scientific research.
She was one of the first to recognize that until rigorous research was established, many things would be held back, including fundraising, third-party reimbursement, development of best practices, community acceptance and mainstreaming EAA/T into its rightful place in society.
In short, Sweeney is an advocate for promoting EAA/T and is devoted to sharing with others the best way to support horses through healing and training. Her sincere and tireless efforts to ignite interest in rigorously developed research which will positively impact equines and humans together has improved the industry, and her selfless dedication is the essence of her receiving The 2011 EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award.