Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship offers a range of activities to suit the diverse needs of participants. Please contact us with your interest and any other enquiries. We look forward to working with you.
Our flagship provision: Therapeutic Horsemanship can be offered on either a 1-1 or small group basis (normally up to 4, although bespoke courses can be arranged on request). On sessions participants learn about horse care and horse behaviour within a positive learning, non-judgemental and safe environment. Our equine activities have been developed specifically to build self-confidence and self-esteem and support young people to develop communication skills, teamwork, responsibility, empathy for others and resilience.
Similar to Therapeutic Horsemanship but with other animals including a dog, cat, chickens and goats.
These are 1-1 therapy/counselling sessions for those who find traditional talk-based office therapy difficult, so especially well-suited for young people who may have struggled to engage with CAMHS for example. Through building positive relationships and attachments with horses, participants then start to build a relationship with the therapist. By working with horses through projection and metaphor participants are able to start to open up about their own emotions and life experiences, so begin the therapeutic process. Horses also offer valuable opportunity for positive tactile experience, something missing for many young people in foster care with trauma backgrounds.
Family Equi-Therapy Sessions
Sirona has a clinical child psychologist on the team (20 years experience at CAMHS) who offers specialist family therapy as well as 1-1 work with children and young people. As well as family work, Jane is also trained in Theraplay, which works really well alongside our equine-assisted approach, which is also informed by play therapy.
Equine-Based Mindfulness (EBM*)
*Our unique equine-based mindfulness approach where participants can be introduced to basic mindfulness exercises within an equine-framework such as walking mindfulness exercises with the horses. We also offer an introduction to our Equine-Based Mindfulness practice as a course for professionals and others interested in this approach.
Equine-Assisted or Animal-Assisted Alternative Education & Equine-Assisted Learning
We offer a range of animal-assisted and equine-assisted learning sessions for young people who struggle in traditional education settings.
The British Horse Society Changing Lives through Horses programme is an ideal first step course for young people prior to undertaking an accredited horse care course. Young people work through horse care based work books at their own pace receiving a BHS certificate at each stage.
City & Guilds Level 1 Diploma in Horse Care accredited course which we run in partnership with Bicton College. This is an ideal course for young people who struggle in a busier formal education environment. Students are enrolled through Bicton College with teaching all undertaken at Sirona. The Diploma is a full academic year but students can enrol on each level of the course in separate stages, i.e, Award, then Certificate then full Diploma, each taking approximately 1 full term.
City & Guilds Level 1 Diploma in Animal Care accredited course which we run in partnership with Bicton College. This is an ideal course for young people (14+) who struggle in a busier formal education environment and will involve learning to care for a number of smaller animals such as chickens, goats, dogs and cats. Students are enrolled through Bicton College with teaching all undertaken at Sirona. The Diploma is a full academic year but students can enrol on each level of the course in separate stages, i.e, Award, then Certificate then full Diploma, each taking approximately 1 full term.
Bespoke educationally based sessions tailored to the needs of the young person. Sessions involve all aspects of horse care and management whilst incorporating numeracy and literacy skills that happen naturally as part of horse management, such as weighing and measuring feeds and writing an exercise plan for example. The young person is also supported in gaining key life skills such as communication, team work and responsibility to help them successfully re-engage with education and/or employment. These sessions can be 1-1 or small group sessions (normally up to 4, although bespoke courses can be arranged on request).
Nature-Based Activities (NBA)
Sirona offers Nature-Based Activities with our qualified Forest School Leader as an additional intervention to support young people who would benefit from an alternative to our standard Equine-Facilitated Interventions. Young people with additional challenges such as ADHD, Autistic Spectrum, mental health and emotional/behavioural struggles may further benefit from time spent in nature as a way of improving their mental health, concentration, calmness and physical health. Nature-Based Activities Pilot Project Report.
We have an environmental art therapist and other counsellors on the team with experience of working therapeutically in nature including nature ‘walk and talk’ sessions. These are suitable for adults who are seeking an alternative to room based therapy and appreciate the healing power of being in nature.
Supported Volunteering Sessions
These are small group sessions incorporating a mixture of horse based and horse care activities for over 18’s with support needs such as learning disability or mental health issues. Activities include mucking out the stables and fields, making feeds and walking ponies out in nature. Depending on level of support needs participants may need to be accompanied by their support worker. Download information leaflet here.
Supported Work Experience Placements
A vocational programme for young people who have graduated from our therapeutic or educational sessions and are able to move on to working in a small group to further develop their equestrian, employability and team skills. Young people receive support to build their CVs and prepare them for a career in equine or animal care.
We run courses for professionals and those interested in the field of equine-assisted activities. Our courses include; An introduction to Equine-Assisted Therapy and Learning: the Sirona approach, Equine-Based Mindfulness, Equi-Drama therapy, and a new planned Foraging for Horses and Humans course. We also offer 1-1 consultancy half days.
1 to 1 Counselling Sessions
This can take the form of traditional counselling in our Tiny Home, walk and talk therapy, or sitting outside in nature. There is the opportunity to observe the horses and other animals as well, but this session doesn’t involve direct contact or activities with the horses.
We work/have worked with:
Devon County Council Children and Young People’s Services
South Devon Youth Offending Team
New Life Services
Action for Children
Pupil Referral Units
Devon County Council
Cornwall County Council
Local Schools and Colleges
Careers South West
Y-Smart Drug & Alcohol Support
‘My experience at sirona was life changing, when I first started I will admit I was sad and angry at the world and didn’t know what to do, but when interacting with the horse it made me realise that I was not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I made great attachments to the horse and people working there and I am forever grateful. As a consequence of being at Sirona I am now working at a racing yard and hopefully off to newmarket racing school next December.’ – Participant
‘The girls have learnt to look after and respect horses which has helped them look after themselves and each other. For ‘Z’, seeing how many times a horse breathes – I’ve noticed that when she gets panicky her breathing has slowed down so she’s much more relaxed.’ – Parent
‘…she (child participant) is much calmer and relaxed and a lot easier to communicate with. She shows true feelings and emotions for the horses and misses them when away from them for too long.’ – Parent
‘X’ (child) didn’t speak all the way to Sirona, she looked sullen and uncommunicative. When I came to collect her a different girl greeted me, she was smiling, chatty and very excited because she had photos of herself and the horses. Sirona has made a big difference.’ – Family Practitioner
‘…. is my favourite (horse). She is very calm which is good when I’m feeling anxious as she calms me down.’ – Participant