The inaugural community showing class, held at Weeton Agricultural Show in North Yorkshire, celebrated the therapeutic value of horses and ponies, and is now hoped to be introduced at more events around the country.

Hosted by author Grace Olson, nominations were open to any equine who has helped an individual or individuals by boosting their physical or mental health. It was the first time such an event has hosted a class based on the therapeutic benefits of spending time with horses, ponies, donkeys and mules.

Assisted by the showing judge, who narrated the parade of ponies, the crowd were told about how each had helped their human. All entrants were awarded a rosette and Grace presented a goody bag donated by Follifoot Park Riding Centre to the story she found most touching.

Spectators were invited into the arena to meet the animals and speak about equine therapy with the handlers. The majority of participants had entered online, so the event also showcased photos and testimonials about each of these equines. Open to any horse, pony or donkey who helped a person or people, the nominators did not need to own the animal themselves.

“The stories were amazing – people opened their hearts about how horses were improving their lives,” Grace told Your Horse, adding that she hopes to host the class at more shows in the future, with aims of introducing it at The Great Yorkshire show next year.

“We want to show the public that horses are far more than sporting animals for the lucky minority,” she said. “They are healers available for everyone.”

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