We provide human-equine interaction through equine assisted learning, therapeutic riding and outdoor learning in nature with our rescued horses and ponies.

We are the largest UK equine welfare charity where rescued horses and ponies help people. We have a unique ethical equine centred approach to the handling and training of all equines in our care, including our equine members of the education and therapeutic team.

Our alternative education and training programmes are designed to meet the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of children, young people, families and adults.  We do this through inclusive, phased approach which is person-centred, developmental, experiential and outcome based.

We create a sense of sanctuary for people within our sanctuary for rescued horses and ponies.

Equine Assisted Learning and Benefits

Equine assisted learning is delivered through a phased approach.  Progression is developmental based on achieving learning outcomes with participants moving towards greater independence around horses and ponies.  Each phase includes:

  • Care of horses and ponies and their environment
  • Developing attunement and presence
  • Ground based activities – leading, long reining, agility games
  • Riding, where appropriate to the participant

Equine assisted learning and therapeutic activities outdoors in nature with horses support the development of transferrable life skills:

  • Increased self-confidence
  • Positive attachment and relationships
  • Deeper empathy and reduced conflict
  • Improved emotional management skills
  • Improved communication skills
  • Increased resilience
  • A clear sense of responsibility
  • A genuine sense of personal achievement and meaningful contribution.

Our relationship with the horses and ponies becomes increasingly reciprocol and compassionate.  We understand ourselves better and express more of our unique nature as individuals.

We provided 1,772 hours of equine assisted learning to children and young people in our pilot year.

We became the first equine welfare charity to join Horses in Education and Therapy International (HETI) as a Federation member in February 2019 and we continue to develop our relationships within this professional network.

Lived Experience

We’ll be sharing stories from our staff, supporters, learners, Sanctuary at Home carers and volunteers of their personal experiences of how horses and ponies have made a lasting impression on their lives and how their experiences have shaped their future.

Additional Activities

School holiday activities for children and young people.  These events give an insight to the work of the Sanctuary and provide active, fun, pony themed outdoor activities for young equine enthusiasts.  For more information and to book in, head over to our events calendar.   We have also created a range of activities for children which can be viewed here.

School visits.  We offer fun and informative workshops and activities for groups and classes for a whole day or part of a day.  Our knowledgable, experienced education team can meet your curriculum needs whilst making sure the pupils enjoy themselves, get hands on experience and learn.

Outreach programmes.  As an alternative to visiting us, we can bring an equestrian experience directly to your setting.  Our dedicated education team will bring suitable ponies and educational materials to cover various subjects.   However, in the interests of equine welfare we only agree to outreach visits for groups that would otherwise struggle to visit our horses and ponies at our sites.

Professional Standards

Our multidisciplinary education team has extensive SEND experience, combined with ongoing CPD and regular supervision.  We actively support the development of professional standards and regulation for Equine Assisted Learning through our membership of Horses in Education and Therapy International (HETI).

Meet our education team staff

Rescued horses and ponies

The rescued horses and ponies who are part of our education team have been specially selected for their highly attuned, people oriented temperaments.  Participants can also relate to our horses’ stories of overcoming trauma and their recovery and resilince.  Their care is managed by a senior equine specialist who also monitors the horse’s needs and welfare during education sessions.

Meet our education team equines

Our facilities and resources

We work with our rescued horses and ponies at our beautiful 80 acre Equestrian and Education Centre near Totnes.  We have two large arenas at the heart of our working yard, as well as indoor and outdoor classrooms.

We created online resources during the coronavirus pandemic to provide our regular participants with access to our equine assisted learning programme.  This included the creation of 20 activities for children and young people.

More information

Please click here if you would like to request our Education and Therapy brochure:

  • Education and Therapy brochure for Commissioners and Providers of Services
  • Education and Therapy brochure for Schools, Colleges and Academies

We welcome informal and exploratory conversations.  Please do contact us about our approach and our programmes, including details of costs and activities which can be delivered on a charitable basis.

Contact our Education Team on 01803 228255 or email education@mareandfoal.org