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Horse Welfare - Our Horses

Wellbeing is not just for people,“Therapeutic horsemanship is the bringing together of horses and people for the benefit of the person’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. It should never be to the detriment of the horse’s mental, physical or emotional wellbeing.”

At Sunrise Farm we believe that our horses should benefit from being part of Horses Helping People alongside our clients. Here are some of the ways we make that happen.

Getting to know our horses well

We are lucky enough to live alongside our horses, who are in fields viewable from the house. This means we can spend time observing the horses when they aren’t in sessions, to learn as much as we can about the individuals in the herd, including their likes, dislikes and needs.

Living in an appropriate environment

All our horses live outside as much as possible in compatible groups. This means they are free to move around, eat and drink when they want, and rest without fear of being bothered by other members of the herd. If the horses need to be stabled for any reason, they will have access to clean water and hay, and will be within sight and touching distance of a friendly horse.

Taking part in sessions

Horses are chosen on a daily basis for sessions, according to their suitability for the activity and client, and their desire to join in that day. When horses take part in sessions with clients, they will always be able to see another horse. If we feel a horse is unhappy in a session, we will change what we are doing, including removing the horse from the session if necessary. Staff and volunteers are trained in recognising signs of anxiety and stress in animals, and will report to supervising staff who will take steps to make the horse feel safe.
It's important to us that horses are not just there to do as we say but that we recognise what a horse can contribute to the session – for example feedback for the client and about the client, and communication about the horse’s own state of being. We do this by providing an environment where horses feel safe and confident enough to express their choices, and then by us listening to the horses. We endeavour to do this without projecting our own agenda onto the horses’ behaviour.

The humans' role

We are aware that every moment a person spend with a horse will have an effect on them, whether that is positive or negative. We aim to remain aware of our own behaviour and emotions while in the presence of the horses, and adjust accordingly.
We like to keep learning and discovering with an open mind, both from the horses themselves, and making sure we’re up to date with new research into horse behaviour. Getting to know horses is a fascinating and never ending privilege.
Different training methods come and go but we believe the most important training here is that given to the humans on gaining the horses’ trust, and handling them with kindness and understanding.


We hold a ‘Keeping or Training Animals for Exhibition’ Licence with Buckinghamshire Council, which requires us to uphold high standards of animal welfare.
Staff and volunteers are encouraged to discuss observations and any concerns about the horses in our care.

A home for life

Our horses are part of our work team but most importantly part of our family. When we take on a new horse, we aim to provide a home for life, from a settling in period, through his or her introduction to client sessions, and through to the end of their life. When that time comes, our horse companions will be treated with respect and compassion.