Get To Know the Polyvagal Equine Institute


We all deserve to feel safe and connected, and horses can help us get there.

In a fractured world where many of us feel isolated, disconnected and lacking a sense of safety, growth, healing and restoration can feel out of reach. This makes it near impossible to access compassion, kindness, and flexible thinking.

We need to be able to shift our bodies from a state of stress to a state of safety and connection. Learning to regulate our nervous systems, our emotions, and our overall state of being, is one of the most important skills we can develop.

PVEI combines 2 incredibly effective and transformative pieces of the puzzle to help us learn this skill:
1. Understanding what is happening in our body, and why, through Polyvagal Theory
2. Putting it all into practice with HORSES, the best teachers for embodied learning

PVEI offers in-person and virtual workshops, trainings and interventions that help us get unstuck from old patterns, think flexibly, and have effective communication with compassion and kindness.


Polyvagal Equine Institute is dedicated to supporting and furthering the polyvagal principles of safety through interacting, connecting, and learning from horse/human bonds. Horse human interactions provide a unique opportunity for cross-species connection. Horses rely on their nervous systems to make sense of the world around them. By interacting with horses, we can experience nervous systems at work instantly as well as see the impact of two nervous systems connecting. By watching, listening and learning from horses, we can, through mutual interaction, increase awareness of the importance of compassionate connections.

Dr. Porges’ Polyvagal Theory has positively influenced a growing group of professionals. His premise that the nervous system is an important element in behavior and the internalization of safety has impacted a variety of disciplines, from trauma therapists to medical professionals.

Polyvagal principles are best understood from a bottom up perspective. This means to truly understand the premises of the theory, it needs to be experienced. Horses can provoke strong visceral feelings in an observer, which can allow for increased self-awareness and understanding of the autonomic nervous system. Guidance and reflection can help identify and minimize the role of old narratives in experiencing the world around us. It is the goal of the Polyvagal Equine Institute to nurture and promote the ability to foster safe connections with each other through the teachings of Polyvagal equine interventions.

The Polvagal Equine Institute is the result of the collaboration between three friends and colleagues, Rebecca Bailey, PhD, Margie McDonald, and Jaycee Dugard.


Meet Our Instructors

Rebecca Bailey, PhD

Rebecca Bailey, PhD

PVEI Founder

Dr . Bailey is a leading trauma therapist who specializes in complex case scenarios. She has over 30 years of experience in the field and continues to be dedicated to the notion that authenticity, common sense, and kindness are the most important elements of effective treatment. She is a lifelong equestrian and animal lover who continues to believe animals, in particular horses, have much to teach humans about curiosity and compassion.

She is the author of two books: Safe Kids: Smart Parents and Equine Connections: Polyvagal Principles as well as articles on Polyvagal principles in the courtroom and the application of equine interventions to a variety of populations.


Published Work

Margie McDonald

Margie McDonald

PVEI Co-Founder

Margie McDonald is a lifelong accomplished equestrian and horse trainer. She is trained in classical dressage and has applied the teachings to an approach that embodies compassion and connection. Her work has included promoting self-awareness and kindness between horses and humans. Her approach has always embodied an awareness of heart to head connection. She is the author of Notes from the Barn: My Life with Horses and has raised the conscious compassion of numerous equine enthusiasts.

Jaycee Dugard

Jaycee Dugard

PVEI Co-Founder

Jaycee Dugard is a survivor of extreme trauma. She feels strongly that without animals in her world, she would not be the person she has become. Thankfully, her recovery included a team of four horses who remain in her life to this day. She has made it her life’s work to support the equine-human connection in tribute to her four teachers.

She is the author of two books: A Stolen Life (New York Best seller List) and Freedom: My Book of Firsts. She has presented with Dr. Bailey at a number of venues reinforcing her work and supporting victims’ innate resiliency.

Our Partners

The Polyvagal Equine Institute is proud to partner with the following organizations: