Equine Assisted World Podcast Ep 1: Joell Dunlap

Joell Dunlap runs Square Peg Foundation one of the most successful and pioneering equine assisted programs in North America. Starting with a simple idea: how could the quirky kids find a place in the world of riding as a sport when the world of dressage and hunter jumper barns can be so judgemental and unforgiving. She fell into creating programs for people with autism, ADHD, depression, eating disorders, and so on first with jumping, dressage and polo and then organically into therapeutic world, but without losing sight of helping them learn and excel as equestrians.

The well-being of the equine partner is paramount at Square Peg and Joell is know for doing the impossible, taking off the track Thoroughbreds and putting them through the Old Masters system of training dressage from the ground with in hand work, long reining and lunging.

The clients themselves become the horse trainers and end up often finding employment through this program which is now a registered health provision for San Mateo County, CA – aka Silicon Valley.

It sounds like a slick path to success but Joell started as a teenage single mother of a child with learning challenges, working at the race tracks galloping two-year-olds in order to make ends meet. No silver spoon here. Her story provided her with the insights and compassion needed to work with challenged and at risk youth, including teenage sex-workers from San Francisco’s notorious Tenderloin neighborhood, as well as putting together successful educational programs for kids, that no school would take.

Her partnerships with renowned classical dressage trainers, such as the Valenca family from Portugal, Christian Bachinger of the Spanish Riding School and Dominique Barbier have brought her a recognition internationally that she has used to help establish programs as far afield as Europe and Asia.

Join us for a fascinating discovery of how Square Peg Foundation makes all this work. And remember to subscribe and share. 

Find Joell at:

Find more about our programs and shows


Leave a Comment