We provide a non ridden interaction with horses and other animals in a peer support environment at our Derbyshire based centre.
We offer age appropriate groups and 1:1 support to people from across the county who feel they need some understanding and compassionate support to their mental wellbeing.
All our services are non ridden, we work through ground work and obstacle sessions, Connection Training, positive reinforcement, mindfulness and meditation.
Equine therapy is well documented as a growing area of mental health support across the world, combined with the movement toward third sector peer support and social prescribing our services support people from many backgrounds and across all ages.Our horses (and all horses) are amazing creatures who have a unique ability to instil calm and joy within you. They communicate in such a peaceful way, and spending time with them, grooming, stroking and being with them, can increase serotonin, calm heart rates and deepen breathing patterns which all support a persons mental wellbeing and mood. Training them through ground based activities is a lot of fun and builds partnerships and trust, as well as strong friendships.
All our facilitators have lived experience of depression, anxiety or further mental health issues. As such we can offer real support and practical advice as well as being mental health first aiders and having a wealth of signposted support available.
Our partnerships with support organisations, County Council services and Social Prescribers are strong and everyone is very excited about our services growing this year.
What we want to do next.
If we reach our target for funding, we want to use the money to develop our site and our services. We have recently had some new additions to the team. Tapioca, Clementine, Daffodil and Bluebell are our new boer cross goats and cade lambs.
They have joined us to enrich the grazing offered to our horses, but also so we can learn, train and enjoy them. It is well documented that Goats and hand reared sheep enjoy the brain stimulation of clicker training and obstacles. Training a ruminant in this way is enjoyable as a unique mental wellbeing exercise. Additionally just with equines, spending time with these wonderful creatures is massively beneficial.
We have an area of our centre that we want to rewild and develop into a woodland walk and picnic area. When securely fenced it will give us a place to sit, observe and interact with the ponies in their natural state, and also spend time in a secure environment with the sheep and goats.
We want to further develop the goat playground in their home field giving people the chance not only to involve themselves with a grass roots project they can take ownership of, in designing and developing the area but also being able to have a safe quiet haven seated in between beautiful woodland with a running brook and old railway line. The goat and sheep home paddock will become a place we offer mindfulness sessions, meditations and yoga. We need to ensure we have safe access to the paddock at all times, and to ensure the site is secure.
Why we need your help.
We have managed to develop the centre through very hard times, Our reserves have gone through trying to survive over the past year with few visitors and no income. We most definitely need your help.
Our centre re opened its doors in mid April and within days we were becoming booked up. People are being added to our waiting list daily, and as restrictions lift our groups will increase both in size and frequency but many are financially restricted and need help in accessing the services they so need. In supporting our fundraising you're also assisting those most in need of accessing our group and 1:1 services.
All our facilitators including our managers and directors volunteer their time. Every penny we raise through whatever means goes to support or improve the services and facilities. If we can raise the funds for equipment and core costs our service users will always benefit from low cost access to services. We have to ensure we have equipment we can reply on and enough support to provide the materials to groups for them to progress.
With your help we can deliver extended equine therapy groups to the community, keeping costs down to affordable levels for all.
We can offer the groups to a wider range of community group with one target focus for 2021 being SEND Siblings and families who are in need of respite activities and also crime victim support. These two groups of service users have been on our wish list to roll out for some time and through this fund we hope we can progress these two support groups and 1:1 provision over the summer.
Mother of a 5 year old service user
Our son has benefitted greatly from visiting this centre, from being really reluctant to join in he now has a wonderful bond with "his" pony and genuinely looks forward to his sessions. When we first attended the centre he would cling to me, would refuse speak to the staff and I had more interaction with the pony than he did, but I am now able to watch from the side lines while he chats away. He is confident enough to lead the ponies and give them clear & confident instructions - he no longer needs me at his side, which is great as I can spend time with the other ponies and get my own sneaky stress busting therapy. He is genuinely fond of Bridget and looks forward to working with her, and sharing his news and ideas with her, and will now often take control of his session, asking to go over certain tasks again, or to work with the other ponies too. Staff have endless patience and clearly enjoyed building a relationship with our son. Seeing his confidence at the centre soar has been amazing, also seeing a boy who hates getting dirty covered in mud and smiling about it makes me very happy and I would not hesitate to recommend that my friends visit the centre.
Mother of a 6 year old service user:
My daughter wanted to horse ride but found she had little confidence around horses which also showed in other areas of her life. She started working with Helping Hooves team and instantly fell in love with the time she shared with them. Her mood is always notably different after she has seen ‘her pony’ and she is calm, happy and has a still mind. Her confidence around animals has changed massively and now when visiting play farms I can see how proud she is to be able to join in with her friends feeding by hand which she had never felt able to do before. The family run team at helping hooves are so welcoming, they are laid back, reassuring, organised, happy and inclusive, I could spend all day there and I know when Abby had her own a pony day she now wants to spend every day there too. An amazing local resource run by people packed with dedication and knowledge and the want to make a real impact for anyone who is impacted by mental health or wellbeing issues. We are so grateful we are able to share the journey. Thank you.
35 year old service user.
Helping Hooves gang have helped me 10 fold with my anxiety. Don’t think I would know what to do without them around. Thank you all for listening to me and building me up where others have failed.
+50s service user
I have used/attended Helping hooves now for several years ... I have always found the service given to be professional and helpful and safe. Safety is paramount especially around the horses. Mental awareness is also taken into account. Plans for the sessions is led by the client under the guidance of the mentor . Great service .
Thank you for reading our story - you're all very welcome to visit, any time !