Before creating our Hoofbeats Sanctuary we ran some trials to find out exactly what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to using horses to heal vulnerable children.
We trialed private sessions, small group sessions (with a maximum of 4 children in the group) and large group sessions (with a maximum of 8 children in the group). We trialed programs where the program facilitators were qualified mental health practitioners as well as qualified Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT)/ Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) practitioners, where the facilitators had an EAT/EAL qualification only and where the facilitators had neither a mental health qualification or an EAT/EAL qualification but had experience with horses and prior experience in mentoring programs.
What we found was that every type of program resulted in significant shifts in how the children felt about themselves and their place in the world, regardless of the level of formal qualifications that the facilitators held.
What we also found was:
We realised that we could develop a program that could deliver all the benefits and remove all the issues by:
In order to deliver our own programs we needed a suitable facility to operate from. Sunshine Coast Council was incredibly supportive of our plans and agreed to allow us to lease a largely unused equestrian centre in Doonan from mid 2019.