It has been observed and documented that vulnerable young people work best with vulnerable horses.
This is because the young people with a variety of difficulties can identify with the horses that also have problems, and consequently develop empathy and sympathy, sometimes so lacking, for the horses that are in rehabilitation.
The young people who come here are encouraged to participate in looking after vulnerable horses and learn simple veterinary care.
"I do challenges that I wouldn't do" Connie's testimonial
It has made my relationship better with horses.
I do challenges that I wouldn't do.
I have to think about the horses feelings rather than mine.
It has helped me to be more confident in other situations and to try things out.
I feel proud of myself because of the things I have learnt and my skills.
When I am there I feel happy. In the future I hope to become a dressage rider. Jackie took Smokey through all the skills and now he's a much better pony. It made my confidence better with him as a pony. Now I trust him.
Lottie's story - As written by her Mum
We first met Jackie and the
ponies of New Life Horse Care when Lottie was 7 years old. I had tried for a
long time to get her help through CAMHS and when I came to a dead end I looked
for alternatives to help with Lottie's confidence and self esteem.
As the weeks went past, Lottie became more and more confident with the ponies and has developed a real rapport with the ponies. Her skills have developed as has her relationship with Jackie. There have been a lot of times where although Lottie couldn't attend school she could manage to spend time with the ponies and as such New Life Horse Care has been a lifeline for Lottie who otherwise would have become very housebound and isolated.
I think the combination of Jackie's determination and commitment to the children who attend at the stables is truly life changing and that combined with the love of the ponies and the unspoken therapy they give gives a really positive and alternative approach to children who otherwise would struggle with talking therapy in a more clinical environment.
I can see so many wonderful changes in Lottie through having New Life Horsecare in her life. She can see that she is good at something and that it is a real talent and natural ability that she has. Through the ponies and their life experiences it has enabled Lottie to begin to understand her own feelings and thoughts and begin to explore how she can take back control of her anxiety and depression.
She has had an amazing opportunity to work with foals which she has loved and a wonderful moment we had when we visited one of the foals in her new home when she was three years old and she recognised and came to Lottie and remembered who she was. That was due to shared experience of attachment issues and an understanding that they had both gone through some of the same feelings, it really was a beautiful moment.
For the future we see our connection with Jackie and the ponies remaining and becoming something that Lottie could do as an adult for employment but definitely something she can use to control and understand her own feelings. I think that there is a wonderful opportunity for children and adults alike to benefit from the help and support that Jackie and the ponies can give. There is a real sense of peace around the yard and it is like taking a step out of the race that is life to change down a gear, relax and truly look at yourself for a while, which to me is priceless.
Ponies helped Melissa gain confidence...
"Ask the animals and they will teach you" (Job 12:7)
I have always been different, for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was very young I never quite fitted in with my peer group, and as such, found it very difficult to make and keep friends. I was often interested in things that were not suitable for my age group. Physically I was on par with my peer group, however cognitively I was a lot younger than my biological age.
At school, I struggled with bullying, every day I would go to school, and people would psychologically torment me. They would call me names, stare at me, whisper about me, not sit next to me, look disgusted if I tried sitting next to them, generally make me feel like I had no valid place in society. I had no confidence, no self-esteem, and just generally hated myself and couldn't figure out what the point was of me being here. It was (and still is) a daily struggle to fit in.
You see, I am consciously aware that I inhabit a different world to neurotypical people. The best way I would describe it, is that it's like going on holiday to a foreign country, and you go to a supermarket and you can't find what you're looking for, so you ask the staff member, but they're Spanish and you can't understand what they're saying, nor can they understand you, it's frustrating, as English is the only language you know, why won't they understand you? What you say is misconstrued, and in your mind, what you're trying to say is being made quite clear, eventually, you get fed up of trying to get people to understand you, so you give up trying to engage, it's easier just to live in your own non-neurotypical world, than it is to try and inhabit the world that everyone else does.
That's fine up to a point, but you cannot go your whole life without answering the phone because you're too scared. You can't continue to live out your life on the internet, hiding behind a picture, engaging with people who you are not physically around. You can't just come home from school and retreat to your bedroom and not talk to anyone, you need to engage with real-life people, you need society, you need a herd.
When working with horses you need to be authentic, you cannot lie to a horse, it is impossible. The horse will know your intentions long before you do. People are funny creatures, they'll say one thing, but mean another, they put on masks to hide their true authentic selves, they put up fronts, it's almost as though they are in a film playing multiple characters, they have one mask for their family, one mask for their colleagues, one for their mates etc., people lie to themselves so much and they lose track of who they really are. The horse, can see through all the lies you build around yourself, and expose you for who your raw soul, sometimes, this is hard for people to face and come to terms with, but this is why equine healing works, it's a no-nonsense approach to getting your cards on the table, and as the horse acts like a mirror to the human soul, it shows you a physical manifestation of yourself right before your eyes. This makes it easier to problem solve, as it almost separates you from your problems, so you can look more objectively at them and find a more creative solution.
With this in mind, I was confronted with Jaffa, who, on the surface was lovely, but he did have some behaviours that I didn?t like, he was bargey on the ground, sometimes bit, would bolt off or buck when he was bored of you riding him, if this was a physical representation of my soul, what did that say about me? FUSTRATION! I was mighty frustrated at people not understanding me, and so I felt l had to shout every time to be heard and to be understood. And this is what Jaffa was showing me. Rather than him exhibiting warning behaviours when he was getting stressed, he would just explode, because the communication wasn't there, and that was the only way he felt he could get his message across. Together, me and Jaffa worked through this, and our communication improved, and my communication improved in turn with society. I developed a new-found confidence, I was able to see situations more objectively, and learnt about more acceptable social behaviours.
The ponies also gave me a massive shot of self-esteem, it was all quite simple really, I would work with the ponies, receive praise, and over time as this was repeated, my sense of self-esteem and self-worth increased. I was still having problems at school, that never stopped, but at least I had this sanctuary to go to each evening and at weekends. The ponies (and Jackie) helped bring me out of my inner world I had created as my safe place, they gave me communication that I desperately needed and believed in me where my peers had let me down. They gave me valuable friendship and helped to show me that every pony has their place in the herd, and that every person has their place in society and that every child matters.
Fast forward to 2017, where did this once broken child end up? Although I still struggle daily with trying to understand and function alongside neurotypical people, I am working full time for the local authority and have worked my way up the ladder gaining three new jobs (each higher than the last) in the space of 2 years. Although the office environment can be a challenge, with all the different noises and people, I do well at my job and am always being given new and challenging tasks to undertake.
Where I was once nervous about answering my phone, I now make daily phone calls in my job, negotiating contract costs with providers and liaising with other professionals. I use my society perceived problems to my advantage, my eye for detail, 150% focus and dedication, and ability to zone out means I can process extremely high levels of work accurately and quickly. I have an inability to sit still and relax, I need to be constantly busy with something, and am always seeking out more work and more tasks to undertake. Great for a high-pressure job like mine where the workload is never ending!
I also design and maintain the website for NLHC, as well as do any graphic design work as required.
I am also very busy with my own three Dartmoor ponies, who teach me something new every day and all of whom have vastly different personalities.
Whilst I continue to struggle to fit into this strange world, where everyone seems to be speaking a totally different language, that early intervention at New Life Horse Care made a world of difference, and showed me that I am important, and that I matter.
"Horses have completely changed my life"
Horses have completely changed my life, without horses I wouldn't be the person I am today.
How the ponies have changed my life:
Horses have helped me in many ways, but here are the points that have changed me the most as a person.
· Understanding what the horses are trying to tell me
This has helped me because it makes me think a bit more. Before I started working with horses, I used to just talk without listening to others but now I've worked with horses so much (and horses can't speak English) I listen to what other people have to say about different situations. If a horse is spooked then he will freeze up or try and turn to run away, before I worked with horses I would have just kicked the horse on and hope for the best, but now I would dismount my horse and show him that there's nothing to be afraid of.
How I've changed the horses lives:
· Saving horses from life threatening situations
We found Mattie at market and if we'd left him at the market he would have gone off to slaughter. He was incredibly skinny and his front half was really overdeveloped with lots of muscle in his neck and front legs whereas his hind end was really underdeveloped with no muscle in his hind legs, he has a really strange walk due to an untreated accident. But now he's making a great recovery.
"I am being taught all aspects of the care and
training of horses and ponies"
"I help out here (at New Life Horse Care), by helping with the horses and ponies.
They are very well cared for and have their physical and emotional needs met and more.
The horses and ponies have extra needs which are understood and worked with to the benefit of the animal's quality of life. I am being taught all aspects of the care and training of horses and ponies and really enjoy helping and learning about them in such a positive environment."
Student at Bicton College
Level 3 Animal Management.
"Mikey has autism and ADHD. He has been coming to NLHC for about 3 years. He helps with the ponies,cleaning out their stables and training them. He has developed a very good bond with all the ponies, especially Mattie,as Mattie arrived not long before Mikey started. Mikey has worked very hard to do the best for the ponies, which ultimately has helped him no end. When Mikey started, he had , he can cope so much better no confidence, wouldn’t talk to people and had to be supervised at all times, but over the course of time his confidence has grown immensely and he will even take Luke out for a walk around the village on his own. Mikey has even helped out at a public demonstration which he would never have had the confidence to do before. Mikey has even taken on training the Dartmoor foals so they have the best chance of a forever home and is such a rewarding thing for him to do. Mikey loves all aspects of NLHC,even mucking out which most people would see as a chore,he enjoys making the ponies lives better. i have noticed so many changes in Mikey,his confidence is higher,he copes so much better with unexpected events as we have had a family emergency recently and he coped amazingly. I am so proud of Mikey and how he has improved since coming to NLHC. Thank you to the ponies and Jackie for enabling Mikey to grow so much".
- Margaret Burden, Mikey's Mum
Mikey has been with us for three years now, he is a tremendous asset to the work we do here, he is able to school the ponies using Ken Faulkner methods on his own and also helps with the other learners.
"Students have gained significantly in self confidence"
Ellen Tinkham School, Exeter.
From the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust
The Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT) is a registered charity, founded in April 2005. Its primary aim is to preserve the indigenous
New Life Horse Care have supported and worked with the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT) over the past couple of years as a fosterer to many young ponies from
If you would like more information about the DPHT?s work, in its education programme, fostering a pony, buying a pony or attending a training course in starting feral ponies.
Please visit our website Visit the Dartmoor Heritage Pony Trust website
From Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony
The Chief Executive of the British Horse Society, Lynn Petersen did a talk to the National Equine Forum about horses/ponies and young people which she called “Its a a kind of magic”.
I wish to thank Jackie for making this magic happen and dove tailed to our charity adds another level of magic, by supporting our work to give ponies from Dartmoor a future.
Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony
Tia’s mother says ‘ Tia has been going to New Life Horse Care Sanctuary for a few months, working with the horses. Tia loves her time there and is making good progress. I have noticed a difference in Tia. She is speaking a lot more about what she does and what Jackie has been teaching her. It is really making a difference to Tia’s life.’
Ponies help a young girl cope with bereavement
"Chloe has been coming to NLHC since October 2016 after the sad passing of her granddad who she was very close to. She was hiding her feelings from everyone, to protect them. Since coming to NLHC she is learning that she can open up about how she is feeling and that her parents don’t need protecting, as they are there for her. She is beginning to overcome her fears,as she was wary of the ponies to start with as she had not had contact with large animals. Even though she is still grieving and struggling with puberty, she is a happier child. She has loved meeting other learners and is making good friends with them. I feel that if Jackie had not allowed Chloe to come to NLHC she would be in a far worse place emotionally. I am her auntie and even though I only see her once a week, I’ve noticed how much better she is"
- Margaret Burden
Ponies help Matt to cope with life's challenges
Matt is Mikey’s brother, who suffers with depression which is the result of having two special needs brothers and a disabled dad. He was classed as a young carer, but there was no emotional support for him. Matt lives in Seaton, and a month ago he came home as he was really struggling. He came with Mikey to NLHC, and I’ve noticed that even though it’s not regular’ he can cope so much better with everything. He loves helping and is happy to do whatever is needed.
- Margaret Burden