MP visits lottery-funded charity TheHorseCourse
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert visited Parkfield Stables in Hurstpierpoint on Friday (4 October) to see how specially-trained horses are providing therapy to people struggling with mental health and behavioural issues.
Mr Herbert met Terri Martinus, the founder of the Sussex hub of TheHorseCourse. Terri has built a career around natural horsemanship and trained as a 3-star Parelli Professional after a career as a doctor. Terri’s work now brings horses and people together to tackle behavioural problems when conventional therapies are not working.
TheHorseCourse was established in Weymouth in 2011, and actor Martin Clunes is amongst the charity’s patrons. The programme has a proven track record of delivering successful outcomes through a network of independent hubs in the UK.
Children with deep anxiety and school refusal, victims of domestic abuse, ex-offenders and people with mental health issues have benefitted from their engagement with the horses.
The course works with people who have found talking therapies ineffective and have shut down or become disruptive and chaotic. There is little talking involved on the action-based course: it is the specially-trained horses who provide the greatest feedback, by rewarding the correct presentations of the person in front of them.
The flagship programme, ReStart, provides one-to-one sessions for 2 hours a day over 5 consecutive days. Participants learn how to adjust their own behaviour to enable engagement with her horses. The outcomes include children who have been able to re-engage with school, and adults who have been able to re-engage with work and society.
The MP was given a short, hands-on demonstration of how the skills are delivered on the course. Under Terri’s instruction, Mr Herbert took her 15-year old horse, Alice, around the course’s obstacles.
Terri said: "I was so pleased that Nick came to visit us at Parkfield Equine Solutions. It was great to be able to show him what TheHorseCourse is all about and wonderful to have his support. Even people like Nick who have been around horses all their lives can still learn something new about how to present themselves in order to communicate with a horse.
“Our participants learn to change their presentation with instant feedback from our specially trained horses which leads to increased self-belief, improved relationships and re-engagement with education, training and employment. A massive thank you to Nick for taking time out of his busy schedule."
Mr Herbert said: “I first heard about the Sussex hub of TheHorseCourse following their recent award of £10,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund, and I really enjoyed my visit. I was fascinated to learn about the programme and see how the horses respond to people, and it was inspiring to hear how Terri’s extraordinary work has helped young people to repair their lives.”
1. Photograph 1 – Nick Herbert and Terri Martinus with Alice at Parkfield Stables, the Sussex hub of TheHorseCourse.
2. To learn more about TheHorseCourse see www.thehorsecourse.org.
3. To learn more about Terri Martinus’ work see www.1withyourhorse.com.
4. Previously published quote from Martin Clunes, actor and Patron of TheHorseCourse Dorset: “Horses are great teachers. These guys, especially young offenders, are stuck in patterns of behaviour and they don't know how to deal with it. If you shove an angry young man in a round pen with a horse, the horse will pick up on that in a second and either run away from you or run you over. Seeing these kids getting a horse to do something for them simply by controlling their own moods is incredible.”