Bringing the power of horses to more people

Child with horse

Bringing the power of horses to more people

Interacting with equines has long been recognised as beneficial to people. Partnering with horses, ponies, donkeys and mules through Equine Assisted Services can help participants meet physical, psychological and social needs.  Now the Mare and Foal Sanctuary is expanding to bring the power of horses to more people.

We have offered Equine Assisted Services in the South West for several years, providing equine assisted learning and equine assisted activities with our rescued horses and ponies to children, young people and adults.

One recent project with frontline workers affected by the pandemic showed over 50% of those involved reported significant improvement in their anxiety levels. Other successes have included children and young people who were struggling at school returning to mainstream education and the provision of safe, enriching activities for looked after children and their carers.

Our vision for our Equine Assisted Services is to create a sense of sanctuary for people within our sanctuary for rescued horses and ponies.

We are now set to help even more people as we expand our Equine Assisted Services provision. Recently, 12 members of our team qualified as equine assisted learning facilitators after achieving a Level 6 qualification in Equine Facilitated Learning. This complements their existing professional qualifications as educators and equine specialists.

Increased demand for the charity’s services triggered the expansion. We cover some areas of significant deprivation where around a third of children live in poverty. We hope that expanding our Equine Assisted Services provision will mean more people from these areas will benefit from potentially life-changing experiences.

Dawn Neil, Head of Education and Equine Assisted Services, explains how we hope to help people: “Horses and ponies are prey animals that have a natural flight instinct, which means they are always in the present moment. They are also pro-social and seek connection with other equines within the herd.  In equine assisted learning sessions, they provide us with constant feedback on how we are communicating and behaving, which we can reflect upon for our self-discovery and own learning moving forward. Equine Assisted Services means the smallest, previously injured or unwanted horses and ponies have a value and a purpose”.

“We want to ensure that all our participants receive quality sessions in a safe, supportive environment and leave with personal learning that they can apply in their lives moving forward. Through participants’ experience of working with our rescued equines, we hope to educate them and share the value that equines as sentient beings, like people, need kindness and care.”

We are a fully inclusive organisation offering both a person-centred and equine-centred approach. As an equine welfare charity, our horses’ and ponies’ needs are paramount. Humans and equines are equal partners in the team.

The Mare and Foal Sanctuary is listed on the UK Human Equine Interaction Register (HEIR) set up by the Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy International (HETI) as a way of raising awareness of the equine assisted service sector to members of the public and service commissioners.

Chief Executive, Sarah Jane Williamson, explains why the register of providers is so important: “We are exceptionally proud of how we have expanded our Equine Assisted Services provision to help meet the needs of children, young people and adults in the South West and of our acceptance onto the UK Human Equine Interaction Register.  Through HEIR people looking for Equine Assisted Services have peace of mind that all registered providers are professional with proper safeguarding and health and safety policies in place and good equine welfare standards.”

To find out more about our Equine Assisted Services, visit our Equine Assisted Services page or email [email protected]

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