The Mare and Foal Sanctuary is expanding its Equine Assisted Services to bring the power of horses to more people.

The charity covers areas of significant deprivation, where around a third of children live in poverty. It is hoped that by expanding its Equine Assisted Services, more people from these areas will be able to benefit from potentially life-changing experiences with horses.

Recently, 12 members of its team qualified as equine assisted learning facilitators to complement their existing qualifications as educators and equine specialists.

“Horses and ponies are prey animals that have a natural flight instinct, which means they are always in the present moment,” said Dawn Neil, Head of Education and Equine Assisted Services at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary. “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.”

Rescued horses and ponies helping people

The charity has been providing the service in the South West for several years. One recent project with frontline workers affected by the pandemic showed over 50 percent of those involved reported significant improvement in their anxiety levels. Other successes have included children and young people who were struggling at school being able to return to mainstream education and the provision of safe, enriching activities for looked after children and their carers.

The charity 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 of the Mare and Foal Sanctuary, Sarah Jane Williamson, explained 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,” she said.

“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 the charity’s Equine Assisted Services, click here

Lead image by The Mare and Foal Sanctuary

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