Our Standards

Equine welfare is paramount and at the core of everything we do

As an equine welfare charity, we have an equine-centred approach to our Equine Assisted Services.

✓ All equines at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary are protected by our Ethical Handling and Training Policy, based on current equine behavioural and equitation science.

✓ Every equine undergoes continuous health and behavioural assessments as part of our Equine Pathway.

✓ Each equine has an individual care and training plan, which includes regular vet reviews.

✓ An Equine Specialist is present wholly to support the equine throughout every session.  Equine Specialists have special training and experience to act as an advocate for the equine/s, to safeguard the wellbeing and welfare of the equine partner/s in sessions and ensure everyone is safe.

✓ The horse or pony always has a choice whether or not to participate within equine assisted sessions and to engage with participants. This includes whether they leave the session.

✓ Our continuous health and behavioural assessments include indicators to identify when an equine needs a break from sessions or no longer desires to be involved in Equine Assisted Services.

✓ At a maximum, no equine is involved in equine assisted sessions for more than one hour per day and the rest of the day is spent in turnout within a familiar herd.

✓ All facilitators are trained in equine care and behavioural observations and have sufficient knowledge and experience to act as Equine Specialists in other sessions.

✓ Equines at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary have sanctuary for life, and we preserve every equine’s life for as long as they have quality of life. The End of Life Policy details our approach to end of life and euthanasia.

At The Mare and Foal Sanctuary, our Ethical Handling and Training policy and approach is based on the latest emergent equine behavioural science. We employ two equine behavioural science specialists in our team. Our equine assisted learning qualification included specialist modules on equine learning theory and equine behavioural science.

We are experts on the welfare of equines, including that of equine partners in equine assisted services, and we offer CPD to other EAS practitioners.

sanctuary worker with white horse


We were one of the first equine welfare charities in the UK to become federation members of the Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy International (HETI) in 2018. As such we wholly adopt the HETI Ethical Guidelines.

As members of the National Equine Welfare Council we adhere to the NEWC Code of Practice and the NEWC Guidelines for equines in equine assisted services. We are part of the NEWC sub-group working on these guidelines.

In addition to the above, we also adopt and implement the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organization’s (IAHAIO) international guidelines on care, training and welfare requirements for equines in Equine Assisted Services and international guidelines on education and training requirements for equine services.

How our services are evaluated

Our Equine Assisted Services are evaluated for their effectiveness and to identify their outcomes and impact. We carry out internal evaluation and have a collaboration agreement with the University of Plymouth’s Psychology department for the independent external evaluation of our Equine Assisted Services.

All evaluations are subject to an ethics committee review process. The Mare and Foal Sanctuary’s Clinical Reference Group acts as the ethics committee within the charity.

We use a range of outcome measures, depending on the individual programme.

We evaluate participants’ experiences, and the ways that participants can offer feedback on individual programmes are detailed in the Participation Agreement.

Learn more about our impact here.


We have the utmost respect for people’s confidentiality and implement our comprehensive confidentiality policy. See our Privacy Notice for more information.

Participants’ information, including session notes, are kept according to our Data Protection Policy.

Safeguarding Policies

We are committed to safeguarding and safety. We are happy to share our risk assessments, safeguarding policies and more about our approach to health and safety. All our Equine Assisted Services staff members have enhanced DBS checks.

For more information, visit:

Safeguarding Adults At Risk Policy Safeguarding Children and Young People At Risk Policy Safeguarding Reporting Concerns Procedure

Equine Assisted Services

Our Programmes

Our equine assisted learning and equine assisted activities create opportunities for participants to learn.
Read more

Our Impact

Learn about the benefits of equine assisted learning and activities.
Read more

Next Steps

Get involved with the work we carry out at The Mare and Foal Sanctuary.
Read more