Equine-assisted therapy centre opens
An aerial view of Sirona’s new centre on the Dartington Hall Estate
A new purpose-built centre providing equine-assisted therapy and learning to young people and adults with additional needs is to open in Devon today.
Sirona Therapeutic Horseman- ship chief executive, Dr Hannah Burgon, will be joined by Sarah Wollaston MP and Dartington Hall Trust chief executive, Rhodri Samuel, to formally open the new centre located on the Dartington Hall Estate, near Totnes. The centre will provide equine-assisted therapy and learning to young people and adults with additional needs including mental health, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and those who struggle with education and other support needs.
Dr Burgon said: “We are so grateful for all of the support that we received, making this build possible and giving our charity a secure home. It feels like a dream come true!
“Our approach can be described as ‘positive horsemanship’ as both horse and person are simultaneously learner and teacher. The benefits of this are particularly felt by people for whom self-esteem, trust and confidence has posed challenges.”
The charity moved from Seale Hayne and built the new centre following a successful crowdfunding campaign which raised £10,000.
Based adjacent to the Dartington Hall Trust’s agroforestry field at Old School Farm, the centre includes an open barn where the horses can range freely, separate stables, an undercover session area, classroom, an arena, separate round pen and a copse where the charity will be developing nature-based activities in the beautiful estate setting.
Qualified and experienced ther- apists and equine practitioners will work alongside a special herd of horses to increase the wellbeing of young people and adults who are referred by schools, social services, pupil referral units, residential homes and private individuals.
One participant commented that Sirona has helped with her confidence and trust. “This enormous, powerful animal trusts me enough to follow me and that feels really good. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Sirona,” she said.
The new centre has also been made possible thanks to grants from EU Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: South Devon Coastal LAG, Northbrook Community Trust, Swire Charitable Trust, Foyle Foundation, Elise Pilkington Charitable Trust, Jephcott Charitable Trust, The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, The Norman Family Charitable Trust, The Gibbons Family Trust, Wooden Spoon, and many more valued contributions.
Rhodri Samuel, Dartington Hall Trust chief executive, added: “We are so pleased and excited that Sirona have made our estate their home.
“The work that Sirona does with young people is inspiring.
“We are delighted to welcome them to join our estate community of land-based initiatives.”