Health and wellbeing

Funding level: Up to £1,000


Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is a new and innovative way for individuals to achieve their personal goals through interaction with horses. EAL sessions bring together horses and people in a safe, supervised environment designed to elicit positive and empowering interaction. Sessions can be for individuals, groups or family units.

Our programs focus on helping individuals and groups of vulnerable children and adults with social/emotional and mental health issues. When in the company of horses, startling improvements can be observed in children and adults with a variety of challenges including Autistic Spectrum Disorder, antisocial behaviour, lack of confidence, low self worth, ADHD and addictions.

Research has discovered that companion animals can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, moderate stressful situations, reduce feelings of loneliness and depression and improve self-esteem. Contemporary clinical research shows that close proximity to horses change human brain wave patterns, suggesting that humans can be transformed in a very positive way when in the presence of horses. Therefore appropriate interaction with horses proves therapeutic to adults and children alike.

The horse is a prey animal and as such has evolved to detect small and subtle changes in the atmosphere and environment. Horses react rapidly to such changes because their survival will depend on the speed of their reactions. The major priority of any horse is therefore safety and the herd is a vital part of this safety. To a horse, we are predators - we look, smell and move like predators and often exhibit similar behaviour. Because of this, clients have to learn to control their own body language and become self aware in order to effectively work with the horses. Horses as herd animals communicate almost entirely by body language which makes them incredibly adept at picking up on the body language of people and mirroring it in their behaviour. There is no riding involved, we concentrate on clients working on the ground, using their body language and energy to engage the horse in therapeutic activities with them.

General outcomes for our participants include:
Increased self control and self awareness; Increased confidence; Improved teamwork and leadership skills; Improved time management; Improved focus; Improved communication and problem solving abilities; Raised aspirations; Enhanced knowledge and competence in animal care and management.

The feedback we receive from staff from referring organisations is that our service has the ability to turn around the lives of some of the most disengaged young people and adults where more traditional services have failed.

This tailor made project will be called Horses Helping to Heal Humans and will be for young people who are suffering from bereavement and tragic loss of a parent or sibling, and who because of financial restraint would not be able to access our service. This would give them the opportunity to be with other young people in similar circumstances and some respite from their grieving. With the grant we will be able to offer 10 young people the opportunity to attend Darcy’s for 2 afternoons. This will be made up of 2 groups of 5, a total of 8 hrs per learner. The cost will cover 2 fully qualified Equine Facilitators, 1 Support Worker, art materials, photographs and trees. During their time at Darcy’s the young people will learn how to connect with our horses and safely work with them loose. EAL is ‘experiential’ leaning, doing rather than talking, and after therapeutic activities clients will have the freedom to discuss their feelings with experienced staff should they wish. Before leaving, participants will be given the opportunity to plant a tree in memory of their loved one in our sensory garden.

Darcy's Equine Assisted Learning Centre CIC

Darcy’s EAL Centre is a non judgemental, person centred, healthy, peaceful environment where everyone finds respite from everyday stresses and struggles. Our community is driven by the overwhelming warmth, enthusiasm and support of our volunteers and EAL team who have a passion to help others.

Location: South Lanarkshire, United Kingdom