Equine-as­sisted ther­apy cen­tre opens

An aerial view of Sirona’s new cen­tre on the Dart­ing­ton Hall Es­tate

Western Morning News - - Horses -

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.”

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