About Us

Wisdom, Wonder and Well-being

Horsemanship for Health is a registered UK Community Interest Company, incorporated in 2016, company number 10111911. The directors are Belinda Seaward, Donna Poade and Wendy Summerfield. We hold advanced DBS certificates and are insured with public liability of £2 million. As a community well-being provider, we hold a Quality Assurance Award endorsed by Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust and Teignbridge Community and Voluntary Service.

Our team

Belinda Seaward is a teacher who studied Philosophy and Psychology at Middlesex University and gained a Postgraduate Certificate of Education from Exeter University. She has taught in secondary and adult education for 20 years. She trained in therapeutic horsemanship with Horses Helping People in Buckinghamshire and completed courses with LEAP and Miranda Carey. Her substantial experience of working with horses and people includes a track record of successfully delivering education, health and well-being projects in partnership with NHS teams, the Royal Marines and Navy and schools. Belinda is an accredited Compassion Circle Facilitator and her many hours of professional development training also include suicide prevention, advanced coaching and mentoring and compassionate inquiry. She is a fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, completing a year-long programme in 2015. She is a published author and speaker. In 2018, she gave a TEDx talk at Plymouth University about the healing power of horses.

Jeff Perry owns and runs the 20-acre farm and stable yard at Newton Abbot where we run our workshops and courses. Jeff is a key member of our team, acting as a facilitator on sessions. He has worked on the land all his life as a gardener and farmer. Jeff has also ridden and worked with horses for as long as he can remember. His extensive horsemanship experience includes many years spent training and rehabilitating racehorses. Jeff’s thoughtful and patient approach to horses has been influenced by the work of the American horseman and author Mark Rashid and former British jockey Michael Peace, known for his work: Think Like Your Horse. Jeff brings much experience and wisdom and is known for his kind, thoughtful and patient approach with people, too.

Rosie Bewley first came to Horsemanship for Health as a student through her own journey to recovery. She has taught across both primary and secondary education for nearly 20 years in the UK and abroad, with a degree in English from Oxford University and a postgraduate degree in Education.  Through teaching English, Art, Drama and pretty much everything else, she held a strong focus on the well-being and personal development of students throughout.  A teaching interval for a course in Speech and Language Therapy brought her to Devon, where she met her wife of 11 years and so she stuck around in this beautiful part of the country.  In 2020 she left teaching due to trauma-induced mental health issues and found Horsemanship for Health through the Devon Recovery Learning Community website.  She felt an immediate benefit from the beauty of working with the horses and the shared healing in the compassion circles.  She now feels privileged to volunteer with the team in helping to provide this support for others, and looks forward to being part of future developments for this powerful work.

Donna Poade is a senior lecturer in well-being at Falmouth University and has extensive experience in evaluating mental health initiatives and is currently training to be a psychotherapist. She came to Horsemanship for Health through Recovery Devon who funded a project entitled ‘Evaluating Encounters with Horses’ where she witnessed the transformation of people towards recovery through the unique connection with the ponies and horses at Horsemanship for Health. Her passion for the project and report on the effectiveness of equine assisted education helped to raise awareness and sealed the relationship between Donna and Horsemanship for Health. She is a passionate advocate of mental health awareness and recovery, born from her own lived experiences of anxiety and depression which has continued throughout her life with varying intensities. In her adult years she was diagnosed with complex PTSD (C-PTSD) which has affected her life greatly and is often a poorly understood condition. Donna is committed to learning more about mental health to further understand and help others towards recovery to lead healthy and happy lives.

Wendy Summerfield has a professional background of personnel management in retail and civil aviation, including working as PA to the Chairman of British Caledonian Airways. She has worked as an outplacement careers counsellor supporting executives to redesign their lives after job loss. Wendy’s husband died when she was in her mid-40s and during that time she began her journey in self-awareness. Wendy spent a year on Maui, Hawaii, discovering humpback whales, and exploring Sufism, Hawaiian culture and holistic health. She then lived on Vancouver Island, Canada, for 12 years and the country’s wild beauty, indigenous wisdom and sense of community resonated deeply. While on Vancouver, Wendy was actively involved in conservation work to protect the native black bears, involving changing local byelaws and designing local education programmes. Wendy first came to us as a participant on our Reconnection with Horses course. Our community and ethical values are a beautiful fit for Wendy, who is now happily and very actively retired in Teignmouth, Devon.

Lindsey Machin rode ponies as a child and after a long break she reconnected with horses as an adult through our first Reconnection with Horses course, where she also met Wendy. Lindsey now cares for our herd of four horses daily and has developed a unique and special bond with each horse. She has developed her horsemanship skills over five years and acts as a horse handler during sessions. She supports us on all our courses by making sure things run smoothly.

Emma Dando joined us as a volunteer after attending one of our Devon Recovery Learning Community courses. Emma has lived experience of mental health challenges and supports our recovery retreats and she also helps us to care for the horses and the land. She puts people at ease when they first arrive.

Advisory Board

We are fortunate to be supported by a team of professionals from many different spheres. Our friends, supporters and advisers include: Kate Sandel, who runs a highly successful equine business, devoted to training horses in harmony with humans. Kate is a highly principled practitioner who believes in working with respect for the horse’s physical and mental well-being – with the aim of improving both. Kate is our equine adviser. More about Kate’s work here: https://softandsound.org/about-kate/

After meeting at a conference, we took a nine-month deep dive coaching education journey with Liz Scott and Stuart Newberry, who have worked with schools, high profile clients and businesses across Devon, and internationally. More about their work here: https://innercompassguide.com/liz-and-stuart/

Belinda’s journey towards educating her own Arabian horses began with the loss of her close friend Steve to suicide. As someone with lived experience of loss through suicide, she is passionate about breaking down barriers to talking about suicide. She met Chukumeka Maxwell, founder of Action to Prevent Suicide, at a conference and they became friends and colleagues, who support each other’s enterprises. More about Chukes here: https://www.tellingourstoriesdevon.org.uk/exeter-community-stories/2021/chukumeka-maxwell-interview.

We are also supported by Dr. Aleksandra Ma, child Psychiatrist, Debs Chalk, who has a wealth of experience in special needs education, Vicky Jimenez, who tutors courses with Devon Recovery Learning Community, Ann Aston, who worked for many years on trading floors in financial London, and Michael Joyce, of Newton Abbot Town Council. In 2021, Horsemanship for Health was nominated as the Mayor’s chosen charitable cause.

Our herd

Our herd of two Arabian geldings, two Dartmoor mares and two goats live on land at an ancient beautiful farm in the rural valley of Netherton, just outside Newton Abbot. The herd is kept as naturally as possible and allowed to roam and interact with other herd species. The horses and ponies are allowed to roll in mud, play, groom, doze, socialise and simply be horses. From spring to autumn, the horses are moved to a natural meadow with sloping contours and high hedges to browse from. The Arabians and ponies are barefoot without shoes. Jeff’s ponies Evie and Rose are two heritage Dartmoor ponies with gentle, kind natures and they work with Jeff when we run our courses at his farm.

%d bloggers like this: