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The AEFL Team


Elaine Russell - Director

Elaine developed an affinity with all animals, especially horses from a young age and enjoyed the usual riding school and pony trekking activities as a child. There was a break from this development due to the pressures of further education and university but when she returned to riding in her twenties and her knowledge grew she soon realized that there were big gaps and flaws in traditional UK training and schooling methods especially from the horses’ viewpoint and decided to try “natural horsemanship”.

She trained with many of the original Parelli instructors and other international experts from differing horsemanship disciplines to gain a wide cross section of skills and expertise over the next few years but avoided becoming a disciple of any particular brand. The skills and experience gained were practiced and improved through a variety of horses and owners until she eventually got her own horse. Chad, whom she met the day he was born, and purchased at 9 months of age. He was an Anglo Arab (a rather large one!) who became both student and teacher for all Elaine’s accumulated knowledge and what he became was the product of many years practice and training (and mistakes and issues resolved). He was an inspiration for further training (for Elaine as well as her clients) but was mainly a much loved family member. Elaine continues to train as she believes that learning about, from and with horses never stops and there is always more to find out.

Elaine met Franklin some years ago when investigating ways of bringing horses and children together in a mutually beneficial way. The hope was to find a new and innovative way of teaching children that brought a deeper more rewarding approach to relationships with horses. Elaine also saw the benefits in the therapeutic side of interaction with horses that did not “use” the horse as a tool as part of the process but brought benefits to all parties involved. A chance discovery of the methods and techniques of Franklin Levinson and EFL seemed to offer all the desired outcomes and Elaine attended courses in both EFL and Training thru Trust.

Elaine became Franklin’s co-coordinator in the UK until she moved to Australia in 2009 – all the family took up residence in Victoria where the training business is now operating – the horses have since been joined by 2 Border collie dogs, and 2 cats! The formation of AEFL Pty Ltd was born out of Elaine’s desire to promote and develop the methods and techniques of EFL in a way that can continue to develop and grow. Elaine will pursue this goal in conjunction with her other horse activities probably until all the family (2 or 4 legged) are involved in some way or another! Horses are not a pastime in this family; they are a way of life that constantly provides new learning and relationship experiences.

Ebony Cox - Director 

Ebony Cox is the founder and creator of Ebony Cox Equine Services (ECES). Ebony is an Agricultural/Equine Applied Scientist, with a love and passion for connecting horses and humans together. Teaching them the fundamental basics of horse behaviour, emotional response, and care.

Ebony is determined to provide participants and clients with a holistic, and professional service framed around the care and management of horses. Her experience, education, and determination come together to provide our industry with scientific knowledge and up to date information.

Ebony loves teaching people of all abilities about Horsemanship, Management & Care, passing on knowledge, by expanding their understanding and giving them a base with no judgement – that should be experienced and available to everyone.

Qualifications & Accolades

  • AEFL Level 1 Facilitator - Provider

  • AEFL Level 2 Facilitator – Provider

  • Cert I in Horticulture

  • Cert II in Horticulture

  • Advanced Diploma in Applied Science – Major Equine Science

  • Bachelor Applied Agriculture Applied Science – Double Extended Major Equine Science & Nutrition

  • RDA Level O

  • Certificate – First Aid & CPR

  • Certificate – Community Coach General Principles

  • Certificate – Infection Control Training – Covid19

  • Certificate – NDIS Worker Orientation Module

  • Certificate – NDIS Induction Module

  • Working With Children Blue Card

  • National Police Check

  • Fully Insured by Affinity

In 2022 Ebony join the AEFL Directors Team!

Ebony and Poco in yard.jpg

Vanessa Keating - Consulting Psychologist

Vanessa is a registered clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions.

Vanessa is part of the team at Australian Equine Facilitated Learning (AEFL) working alongside director Elaine Russell and a herd of ten wonderful therapy horses, based at Tooradin Estate.

She also holds a role as senior clinical psychologist at Cabrini Women’s Mental Health Service.

Her qualified therapy dog works with her, both individually and in groups.

Vanessa trained in both Australia and Germany and has held positions in a wide variety of mental health settings including public mental health clinics, hospital research clinics, inpatient facilities and private settings. She has extensive experience engaging with people of all ages and backgrounds.

In addition to her clinical roles, Vanessa has worked in the area of education and support for general practitioners, community health workers and teachers, to expand their mental health knowledge and skill base.

Vanessa is trained in a wide variety of evidence-based treatment. She enjoys working with each individual to develop a unique therapy plan that feels safe, supportive and empowering.

Because clinic based therapy does not suit everyone, she has completed additional training and offers therapy in a number of alternative settings, including animal assisted therapy and outdoor therapy.  Being an animal lover and having run her own small farm for over a decade, Vanessa enjoys bringing her knowledge and skills to this area.

Vanessa Keating Psychology & ANIMAL ASSISTED Therapy Clinical Psychologist BA(Hons) MPsych(Clin) MAPS

Sally Francis – Principal Trainer

Born in Mornington, Australia, Sally comes from an equestrian family that ran a successful riding school business in the South Gippsland region of Victoria. Sally came up through the Pony Club ranks to become a successful all round competitor in EFA events, her main love being eventing.

At 25, Sally became a State Coach with Rideability Victoria (formally known as RDA Victoria) and has become a national coach educator and assessor for RDAA and Pony Club Australia.

Sally became involved in the Australian Para Equestrian teams in 1994 when she went to the World Championships in Hartpury UK as a carer and then in 1996 she was the Chef d’equipe of the Australian team that went to Atlanta. At Sydney 2000, Sally was one of the National Technical Officials that officiated at the Paralympic Equestrian events and then her interests returned to assisting the Australian Paralympic Equestrian team at Hong Kong in 2008 as the assistant coach. Sally has been a part of the EA High Performance Program since 2009 as the Chef d’equipe of the Para equestrian team.

Sally Francis retired from Rideability Victoria after 25 years of dedicated work for the organisation. She still consults for them as an RDAA coach educator and assessor. She regularly presents at both Pony Club and RDAA coaching workshops specialising in pole work exercises and innovative coaching techniques using adaptive saddlery and equipment to assist riders to develop their optimum riding skills. She also continues to run the family’s horse and cattle agistment business on her 400 acre property Tooradin Estate. She loves to see people enjoy the unique bush land that is the setting for a well established all-weather cross country facility for riders of all abilities. Having attended an EFL clinic and recognising the benefits of this therapy she came on board with EFL as a principal trainer and looks forward to a new chapter in her long and varied career with horses. Tooradin Estate has now hosted several EFL clinics and is set to be a major venue for future EFL and Trec events.

Sally is a keen card player who loves good theatre and time to play with her beloved dogs Ruby and Coco.


Franklin Levinson – Patron

Franklin grew up with horses and his father was an avid polo player. At the age of thirteen Franklin was the youngest registered polo player in the US. By the time he was seventeen he was training polo ponies for hire. His life with horses continued to expand as he began running the equestrian programs at summer camps while in his early twenties. Franklin not only taught horseback riding to those children, he also developed a passion for teaching “horse” (the language, psychology, needs and nature of horses). Franklin discovered early on that knowledge about horses would enhance the experience that all his students had with their horses. This went for horse owners as well. Being a competent rider does not mean being an experienced horse person. Franklin began teaching about the nature of Trust as it relates to horses very early on in his professional equine career. The horses he encountered seemed to benefit greatly from this approach to teaching horsemanship as well as the people.

At 30 years of age, Franklin moved to the island of Maui, Hawaii and began Adventures on Horseback, which was a day-long outing on horseback into Maui’s tropical rain forests with swimming in waterfalls. Franklin’s intention was always to inspire and uplift those who journeyed with him. During the 25 years that AoH operated, Franklin further honed his skills as a gifted group leader, teacher and horseman. In the early 90’s Franklin created the Maui Horse Whisperer Experience to teach the language and psychology of horses to interested parties whether they were horse owners or not. This seminar was one of the first Equine Facilitated Learning programs available in the USA. He teaches the skills to be successful with horses as life enriching qualities that will enhance the lives of all involved (including the horses).

In 2002 he was invited to a Colorado ranch to teach his methods and train horses and Colorado became his base of operations. He began the Aspen Horse Whisperer Experience and these programs utilized Equine Facilitated Learning to help and improve the lives of adults and children. He also provided therapeutic equine programs for disadvantaged and learning disabled children. In more recent years he has travelled internationally to teach his gentle, highly effective horse training techniques of “Training thru Trust” as well as Equine Facilitated Learning. Franklin’s intention is to inspire and uplift everyone he encounters and to enrich the lives of horses and humans on a daily basis. His philosophies, essays and commentaries on gentle, effective horsemanship have been featured nationally and internationally in numerous publications, television broadcasts (Discovery, ESPN, American Adventurer) as well as other media.

No relationship can flourish and develop without mutual trust and respect at its’ core. Franklin teaches the skills and attitudes necessary to have this sort of successful relationship with horses and humans alike.

Franklin now lives on the island of Corfu in Greece with his wife Ilona and they continue to spread his philosophies and techniques. To contact him and learn more about his teachings visit

Franklin is the patron of AEFL and will support the activities of this organization during his annual visits to Australia.

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