Meet the education team

We’re delighted to introduce you to our staff, horses and ponies who make it possible for us to provide alternative education and training for children, young people, families and adults here at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary.


Dawn Neil – Head of Education

Dawn is passionate about ponies and people.  Her love of equines started at an early age and she has kept horses and ponies most of her life. 

Dawn’s background is in Primary Education, where she worked both as a qualified classroom teacher and Senior Leader.  The role of Head of Education really is her perfect job, as she gets to educate people about equines and equine welfare issues as well as and giving people opportunities to experience the magic of connecting people with horses and ponies outdoor in nature. 

Dawn is also Designated Safeguarding Lead for children and young people and adults for The Mare and Foal Sanctuary 

Picture of Louise with a horse

Louise Sharpe – Accredited Professional Coach

Louise feels privileged to be able to connect people with horses and ponies through our ground based and therapeutic riding programmes. She is a British Horse Society Stage 4 qualified Accredited Professional Coach. 

Louise originally trained at the Talland School of Equitation in Cirencester and Bicton College of Agriculture. She also has a small yard at home where she brings on young horses for showing and is a proud member of the British Skewbald & Piebald Association (BSPA).  

Alison Murray. Photo copyright The Mare and Foal Sanctuary

Alison Murray – Equine Assisted Learning Education Officer

Ali has a wealth of experience in education and learning from mainstream schools and colleges and alternative educational settings. She is Beach Schools practitioner and qualified First Aider. 

Ali spent 10 years living and working in Turkey where she loved the culture and way of life. She was also heavily involved with animal welfare, educating local people about how to care for their animals. 

Ali has always been passionate about horses and is excited to be working with people experiencing challenges in their lives who benefit so much from connection to horses and nature.

Elaine Fawcett. Photo copyright of The Mare and Foal Sanctuary

Elaine Fawcett – Equine Assisted Learning Education Officer

Elaine is living her dream job! Shes a mother of three children, one of whom is autisticShe’s also had a long career in education, care and support for people with additional needs of all ages. 

Elaine loves nature and the outdoors and holds a Level 3 Forest school qualification. 

As a carer for a Sanctuary pony, Elaine also has a wealth of knowledge about the Mare and Foal Sanctuary which she shares through our education programmes and events. 

Our rescued horses and ponies

We ensure that our educational activities do not benefit humans at the expense of the horses’ welfare.  We have an equine support specialist from our equine care team who acts as an advocate for the rescued horses and ponies with whom we work.

All our rescued horses and ponies have experienced some form of trauma in their lives, just like many of our human participants.  When our participants understand that the equine have had similar life experiences, this often has a profound impact and creates mutual understanding and empathy between people taking part in our courses and the ponies and horses who are a special part of the team.


Quest – 15hh skewbald cob gelding 

Kind natured, laid back personality 
Loves eating and hacking out with his friends

Quest was abandoned when he was just a few months old and should have still been with his mum. He was found with two other young colts, and taken in by the local council while they waited for an owner to come forward and claim him. Sadly no-one did and Quest faced an uncertain future until the Sanctuary offered rescue places for Quest and his two young friends.


Jenga – 14hh bay cob mare

Very sweet natured, has a fantastic temperament 
Enjoys being groomed, always gives a friendly ‘nicker’ (call) at feed time

Jenga arrived in the Sanctuary in Summer 2013 with her filly foal Jumanji, and in foal again. She was part of a large group of horses that had been fly-grazing (grazing without permission from the landowner) and were taken by the local council.  None of the horses were claimed, leaving the group of 25 horses desperate for homes. Luckily Jenga and Jumanji were able to come to the Sanctuary. Jenga had another filly foal, Jade, in the Summer of 2014


William – 13.1 hh Skewbald Dartmoor Hill Pony gelding   

Easy going, gentle, chilled out chap
Enjoys in hand walks out and about in the green lanes

William was very sick when he arrived at the Sanctuary in 2010. He had been seized by the RSPCA, underweight, too weak to stand up by himself and covered in sores from laying down for prolonged periods of time in dirty bedding. For the first week we had to carefully lift him up every few hours and he even had to be on a drip when he first arrived.


Joker – 8.2hh Grey Shetland gelding pony  

Calm yet confident, cheeky chap 
Loves rolling in mud and changing colour! 
Mari Moo

Mari Moo* – 15 hh Tri coloured Welsh part bred mare 

Curious and clever, sweet natured. 
Loves attention and going out for rides

*Kindly on loan to support our Education work


Fly* – 16.3hh Skewbald Crossbreed gelding 

Gentle giant, very relaxed, loving and calming nature  
Enjoys being groomed and grazing in the fields with his herd

*Kindly on loan to support our Education work