Malvern Riding School

07766 853668

Hands on Horses Charity

'Hands on Horses' was established in 1998 at

Northend Farmhouse Care Home,

the site of Malvern Riding School

Julie is a Registered Carer with Shared Lives of Worcestershire County Council.

She initially set up her charity work just for the three service users of Northend Farmhouse but as she now holds a Riding Establishments Licence she is able to expand the charity work to others.

Julie's 'Hands on Horses' Therapy was written about in Central Horse News Magazine in Oct/Nov issue 2007 and was the ' Star Letter' of the Month - as below:-

Dear CHN,

"The British Horse Society embraces equine facilitated learning.

The BHS is looking at ways to combine the unique talents and personality of horses with the opportunity to extend its work supporting the community in general."

Following news from the BHS, I would like to tell readers a bit about the work I do.

I am a great believer in the BHS system and hold the BHS Intemediate Stable Managers Certificate, the BHSAI and will be taking the BHS Intermediate Teaching Test this October. I have also enjoyed over 20 years as a British Dressage Judge and am on their list of Accredited Trainers. Throughout my equestrian career I have taught 'riders' but a chance meeting with my partner nine years ago led my teaching along a different path.

My partner is proprietor of a Residential Small Care Home. The clients are adults with a combination of Autismn, Schizophrenia, Acquired Brain Injury, Visual Imparement, Limb Amputee and Learning Disability and through the care home I am now a registered carer with South Worcestershire Adult Placement Scheme but I have combined the conventional caring with my equestrian background.

Equine Facilitated Learning? I call my sessions 'Hands on Horses'. These sessions of Equine Specific Sensory Aid are simple tasks involving the horse on the ground, there is no mounted work, but the tasks undertaken help the client practise skills such as assertiveness, teamwork, non-verbal communication, development of hand to eye contact, body co-ordination and the general contact with a horse seems to increase attention span, memory and help develop speech. The warmth, smell and feel of a horse seems to flood the clients senses.

Just ask yourself how lovely it is to bury your face into your horse's mane and smell your horse when you haven't been near him in a while!

Unfortunately, I couldn't take a day off work to attend the seminar which the BHS ran on the 17th September, but I am sure it will have helped instructors to think outside the box and see a wonderful resource which can help people who for whatever reason cannot help themselves. 

Competitive riding is a thrill and as an instructor its a challenge to help your pupil improve, but on a basic level, to help someone know the simple joy of being with horses can be so rewarding.This joy is something which many of us have the luxury of taking for granted.

Julie Davies-Bennetts



Today, the therapy ponies are visited by the local

Special Education Centre in Malvern

for the service users to pet and enjoy contact with the ponies.

'Hands on Horses' is also known as E.S.S.A

Equine Specific Sensory Aid.

Worcester News reported in the Country News section of Saturday 21st April's edition:-

A dream come true

Julie Davies-Bennetts has fulfilled a lifelong ambition to open a riding school.


Dream: Julie Davies-Bennetts              EMPATHY: The riding school ponies line up.

Julie believes that the horses behave far better when in the company of people with learning difficulties, and her pupils get a lot out of the sessions at the school.

JULIE Davies-Bennetts realised a lifelong dream when she opened her riding school.

But as well as indulging her passion for teaching youngsters to ride, she is also using her ponies as therapy for children and adults with learning disabilities. She is also hoping to take the ponies to homes for the elderly if it will improve their lives.

The Malvern Riding School - which is based at North End Lane, Malvern - was opened this month after a rigorous inspection.

"This is a dream come true for me," said Julie, who has been a qualified British Horse Society instructor since 1980 and a British dressage judge since 1986.

"I have always been mad about horses and my father was a teacher so it was in the genes to become a riding instructor," said Julie, who also teaches at the prestigious Summerhouse Equestrian Centre in Gloucestershire.

Julie helped to start the affiliated dressage competition at Solihull Riding Club - which has now become a national event -after regularly competing on her own dressage horses.

When she moved to Malvern she built up a successful stud to conserve and preserve Dartmoor ponies. She also became a registered carer for adults with learning disabilities.

She now combines running a riding school with looking after three adults.

"This experience has taught me how much people with learning disabilities can get out of being with animals just by touching them.

"Even mischievous ponies behave far better when in the company of people with learning difficulties. Now that I have my licence to run the riding school it means that I can offer the therapy service free of charge."

She has started the Malvern Riding School pony club and offers half-day and full-day packages.