What People Say

A selection of comments from our partners and participants in their own words.

“The whole environment feels very safe. There is no agenda, no judgement, people feel able and comfortable to speak when they may not feel able to do so in other environments. People who don’t get to shine can shine because the horses recognise their qualities, offer validation for those who do not normally feel validated, through the ponies recognising people’s inner qualities and identify when people need attention.” – Emily, facilitator, Langdon Hospital.

“Horsemanship for Health offers a unique opportunity to our patients and staff. Through working with animals our patients are able to rediscover themselves, find meaning in life and hope. I have witnessed some special moments during sessions. One of the patients said that his paranoia goes completely away when he is on the farm, another patient commented on the feeling of freedom he never gets in the hospital. Our partnership with the team (and animals of course!) has been really successful. Their passion, gentle approach and non-judgemental attitude have been key to the success.” – Joanna Duke, facilitator, Langdon Hospital.

“I would just like to say how empowering your work and the horsemanship for health experience is for the gentlemen at Langdon. None have given a negative experience and for some it has really given them an experience of pleasure and happiness which they have missed for years.

One chap described his first visit as the best day of his life.

Another chap was quite difficult to engage with in terms of ordinary conversation and consultations. Chatting about the horses gave him lots to talk about and this opened up his ability to discuss other issues. Being able to communicate verbally allowed him to move from a pre-contemplative stage to a contemplative one. It was such a joy to hear him give his own opinions on topics.

Much of medicine requires numerical statistics to show proof of success or significant impact. I am not sure how your service provides this, but feedback from the coalface of working with challenging and vulnerable people is that your team provides a branch of support that is very much appreciated. Keep up the tremendous work you do.” – Dr. Su Thomas, GP, Langdon Hospital.

“The format of the class really worked for my clients and was obviously very well thought out and clearly planned to really engage and enthuse the attendees. The benefits to the clients in attending these sessions have been evident both between the sessions, and since. Aside from positively enthusing about the class, there was a marked increase in self-confidence and proactivity in the days after the sessions, and one client was inspired to write several horse themed poems, which he finds very therapeutic, and another client has enquired about volunteering at a local stable next year. I can’t recommend the service enough.” – Jim Hughes, Mental Health Support Worker.

“Due to my PTSD and hyper-vigilance from a domestic violent relationship, my confidence is at an all time low. I spend all day everyday with flashbacks and thoughts about the violence. But for the time I’m with the horses and ponies my mind is clear of those thoughts, a break that my mind hasn’t had in about ten years! I am also 95% housebound so to come here is huge.” – Community Mental Health participant 2021

“I am calmer, gentler, more kind to myself and my children. I have begun the process of reviewing and agreeing boundaries in an abusive relationship. I have rediscovered a range of emotions, instead of being full on or off. I am less scared. I am more accepting of my emotions and realise that trying to control them is counter productive and they should be observed, not judged.” – Community Mental Health participant 2021

“I was really surprised how emotional being with the horses made me feel and what a freeing experience it was. A joyous and wonderful day. Thank you.” – DRLC Recovery Retreat participant 2022

“I enjoyed being authentic in the horses’ environment with compassionate people who were willing to share experiences and expertise. I learned that I am not alone and this is more of what I need.” -DRLC Recovery Retreat participant 2022

Today I felt I couldn’t approach the horses immediately. I felt they would reject me. They didn’t; they accepted me and gave me the comfort I’ve lacked for all these months. I’m genuinely leaving today with a completely new outlook on life. I feel like I have hope. The gratitude I feel is immeasurable.” – DRLC Recovery Retreat participant 2022

“Each week I have seen people transformed by what seems a simple, but deceptively profound, experience. I have seen exhausted carers walk out saying that they have had their faith in the compassion of people restored. People with complex mental health needs have stated they feel they are ready to begin to go out in the world again. Women have spoken of abuse for the first time or have reported feeling validated as victims for the first time. People terrified of horses have left feeling a huge connection with a large animal that has opened something in their heart.  Sometimes people simply leave feeling refreshed that they have spent a day allowing their own mental health to be the focus for a change. The list is endless.” – Volunteer Facilitator 2022

“I found my visit to Horsemanship for Health to be an inspiring and deeply moving experience. I have suffered from mental health problems all my life but never received the offer of participating in equine therapeutic programmes – I would certainly have jumped at the chance if it had been available to me. I had never previously been so close to a horse, but I was made to feel comfortable, and I never felt uneasy or afraid; in fact, quite the opposite. I was shown how to greet the beautiful Dragonfly and lead him gently round the field. I could sense that Dragonfly was attuning to my presence and intuiting my emotions; I felt an inner peace and tranquillity that was very powerful. The sense of latent strength yet gentleness and calm exuded by Dragonfly was very apparent to me. It was also heart-warming to see the obvious rapport and bond between Phil [a participant] and the horse, and his obvious enjoyment in interacting with the horses. Overall, I found it a profound, spiritual and therapeutically beneficial experience and I would love to visit and interact with the horses again in the future.” – Richard Woodward, Public Affairs Assistant, Blue Cross Charity

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