Horses Helping People
Horses are special, right? How many of us feel better after a visit with a horse – calmer, less alone, more alive? And horses have a great way of bringing people together, cutting across cultures, setting differences aside.
Chances are, if you’re coming to the Horsemanship Showcase, you already have horses in your life. We’re the lucky ones. How can we make sure it’s not just the privileged few that get to experience this?
Therapeutic horsemanship can help…
Horses Helping People is a full time therapeutic horsemanship centre in Buckinghamshire (just a few miles away from Bury Farm) set up by Debbie La-Haye and Dave Johnson in 2006. We’re open to pretty much anyone who can benefit from being around horses – which is just about everyone! We have welcomed to the farm both adults and young people, with a wide range of life challenges including people with mental health problems, learning disabilities, neurodiversity, dementia, caring roles, homelessness, people affected by substance misuse, and who have experienced abusive relationships. Many of our clients have never had the opportunity to be close to a horse before.
What do we do?
Every day is different as we adapt the sessions to suit both human and horse participants on the day, sometimes working one to one, sometimes with small groups. Maybe you’ll find us grounding ourselves in nature while watching the horses in their fields. Perhaps we’ll be looking after the horses’ needs, making sure they have food and water, discovering how they communicate with us and how we can communicate with them and, yes, clearing up poo! Or maybe we’re hanging out with the herd, carrying a few brushes with us for those that want to be brushed, and enjoying the peace of being in the horse family.
On another day you might find us running our programme of mindfulness in the company of horses and nature. Since 2013 we have been exploring safe and ethical ways to help people with skills for maintaining long term positive mental health through mindfulness with horses. The National Lottery Community Fund believe in the benefits, having awarded us £350,000 of funding over the last 4 years.
How did Horses Helping People come about?
Dave and Debbie met back in 2000, while working at a charity providing therapeutic riding and horsemanship for adults with long term mental health problems. We developed a vision of the kind of centre that we wanted to run, that would be accessible to anyone, and would benefit not just the humans but the horses as well. We combined our lifelong love of horses, and used experience gained from time spent training horses, teaching Western riding and caring for the natural world, to create a centre where other people could share our passion for horses, and experience what we had been lucky enough to experience ourselves.
What about the horses?
Our fabulous herd of 8 horses is at the heart of everything we do. And it’s really important to us that are happy in their role. Outside the sessions we do our best to provide them with a lifestyle that meets the horses’ needs, with forage, friends and freedom to make choices. During the sessions, we make sure the horses feel safe and are listened to. We’re lucky enough to live on the land with our horse family, and they stay with us until the end of their lives.
Want to know more?
We’re very excited to be at the Horsemanship Showcase to launch our new range of online courses, in which we share with you our experiences of the last 20 years. We have knowledge to share, stories to tell and ideas aplenty for sessions that are safe, appropriate, and beneficial for both human and horse participants. Whether you’re just starting out on this path, or looking to expand your business, our courses will have something to offer you.
- Are you looking for information on how to set up a centre and get funding?
- Do you want to know how this work can affect horses and how to keep your therapeutic horses happy?
- Would you like to know how to plan a 12 week course, or activities for different client groups?
- Or maybe you’re simply curious about how therapeutic horsemanship works?
We’ve been running courses at the farm for the last 15 years – now is the time to bring them to a wider audience.
We’ll also be revealing some exciting news about our new Mindfulness with Horses training, and how you could get involved!
Be sure to stop by the Horses Helping People stand to have a chat with Debbie and find out more…
(Horses Helping People is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company. All our sessions are non-ridden, and we do not offer any kind of counselling or therapy. Therapeutic horsemanship is a way of bringing people and horses together in activities or shared experiences to improve mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as physical and social skills. It should never be to the detriment of the horse – ideally the horses should benefit too. Sessions should be safe and appropriate for both the human and horse participants.).
Horses Helping People on social media