EFL and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning (EFPL) have become increasingly popular internationally as an approach to working with people living with dementia. We know that the symptoms of dementia may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These can be severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities, interact with others and negatively affect their ability to live life fully. FEAL offers the “gift of the present”, in which people have the opportunity to feel, smell, touch, listen and to “live in the moment” with the horses and the environment. Being in relationship with the horses at FEAL, invites the individual to gain a deeper sense of understanding of who they are in any given moment.
“Words cannot express the positive impact FEAL has had on P. the difference in her demeanour has been phenomenal. The relaxed atmosphere and support of the staff to a lady with advanced dementia has been second to none. It goes further than just the service user receiving the benefit it has given the family reassurance and conversation”.Carer
“I would like to thank you for the lovely time and experience that you gave to mum during our visit. Jilly, from Ashdene Care home, had previously described mum’s enjoyment with you but, to see it was lovely.
You and your colleagues are obviously committed to responding in a positive and calm manner to the individuals that are able to visit you and your horses. Mum’s memory is of course not good now but she was able to recall a few of her experiences during lunch whilst we went through our photographs.
To encourage mum to pick blackberries was an amazing idea as she remembered how we used to do this when I was a child. The entire family, with several other families, would arrive home with pots full of the fruit ready for the jams, tarts and crumbles; all of which mum enjoyed talking about later that afternoon.
The time of 2 hours is perfect. It allows the enjoyment of walking in the countryside, chatting and taking tea with you all before it becomes too much for mum. She walks all the time but after a while can find it hard to know what to say to folk, hence, before she started to feel uncomfortable it finished.
Alzheimer is a horrid disease, taking people’s personality away and replacing it with another, so when I see mum in a situation where she is smiling and relaxed I know that the experience is calming her mind and not offering the disease the stress that it feeds upon.”Sue ( daughter)
“I have seen residents progress over the few weeks attending these sessions, we try and take different residents each week so all our residents can get the benefit however we have certain residents that continue to ask to go to Foxdale and we have seen certain residents progress over time. One resident B. C wouldn’t get up close to the horses, he was happy holding the hair that fell out of the brushes however over a few weeks B eventually got the courage to go up to them and touch them showing no nerves or insecurities, he also seems calmer after the visit in the home.Maple Leaf Care Home Grantham
The smells, sounds and fresh air really benefit residents with dementia and elderly residents. Maple Leaf residents have been attending FEAL since 2014.
“My comments would be from two sides I think…one from what the Square Hole Club Members say and one from my personal observations.
Firstly, the members, of course! Whenever we ask the gang what things they might like us to plan for them for future clubs FEAL is always mentioned, they tell us they have such a lovely time when they come over and that they relax and unwind a bit from the everyday stresses and strains they might have. This is to do with several different things they experience there, the wonderful setting, being close to the horses and with some of them the actual touch and grooming of them and also the other animals that are there too such as the dogs and chickens etc and also the people they meet there who always make them feel so welcome and so looked after…oh, yes and the lovely picnic we have there too…and the cakes!!!
Now from my side I would say that what I see is this, the members who are more verbal seem to visibly become more confident when they are with the horses trying out different things i.e. grooming and petting the horses, and also more engaged, contented and happy with lots of smiles everywhere and you can almost see their daily cares floating away for a while. Members who are less verbal and often times less engaged in activities is even more amazing I think as they discover that when they are there they do not have the pressure of trying to be as verbal because they are able to join in with everyone else through touch and feeling (i.e. stroking the horses) and gentle actions (i.e. grooming) and again I see them relax for a while which is so important for all of us but for them in a generally verbal based world I think this is even more precious. Everyone wants to feel that they ‘fit in’ and feeling that sometimes you don’t when you are unable to reply to others must feel very stressful and any small time away from that must feel like a weight is taken off their shoulders.
Thank you all so much, we absolutely love our times at FEAL as much as our members do.Dianne
Square Hole Club – Dementia Support South Lincolnshire
Visiting FEAL since 2016
For those struggling with their emotional health, interacting with horses can have significant impact. S & K suffered from anxiety, depression and self-harm for many years. Attending FEAL has made a huge difference in their ability to cope and give them strategies to manage.
Equine therapy at Foxdale made a massive difference to me. It was my highlight of the week and something that I always looked forward to. Most importantly equine at Foxdale gave me something to work towards by keeping myself safe each week. Also after every session I felt more relaxed and less anxious due to the horses, the environment and also the people. Every session would be over very quickly despite it lasting over 3 hours and I was always very reluctant to leave because of the relaxing atmosphere. It helped me as well to socialise because at equine therapy you meet new people and therefore it helps to improve confidence when communicating and socialising with people elsewhere in the outside world.S
It is really hard to try and put into words how much I have taken from equine therapy at Foxdale because I can’t really describe it. It improvedK
my confidence, helped me realise my love for horses, helped me to socialise, helped me to open up and begin letting out emotions, let me have experiences and opportunities I would never have ordinarily had and most importantly has made me happy in so many ways.
“Lovely peaceful setting and a fun time had by all today. Thanks to all the team who helped organise and facilitate a great day for the members of LDSSG!
“E has had an amazing day today. Thank you to all involved”
“What a magical day we have had! Thank you so much to Tracy and Mike and all the lovely ladies for a day to remember. Thank you from us all at Lincolnshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group for all your time and work and brilliant cakes! Thank you for organising the weather for us too – we were very lucky.” xxLincolnshire Downs Syndrome Support Group
Headway Lincolnshire is a brain injury charity that supports brain injury survivors and those caring for them.
We have attended sessions at Foxdale since 2016, and have found the sessions to be an enormous benefit to those that we support, with high levels of anxiety.
The sessions have increased social interaction, physical activity, motivation, attention and eye contact. They have also improved motor skills, increased sensory integration, increased confidence and generally has had a calming effect on all that attended.
Tracy and her team of volunteers couldn’t have been more accommodating to our needs.Ann-Marie Smith
Information & Support Worker Headway Lincolnshire
Freya has really enjoyed her sessions at FEAL. As soon as she arrives, she is made to feel so welcome by the big smiles and warm hearted natures of the staff and volunteers. All the activities are so well planned out but can also evolve as the day progresses allowing the participants to take the lead. Freya really enjoys the calm, relaxing atmosphere that is always present at Foxdale. It really seems to benefit Freya and myself as her parent/carer.Parent
Freya loves the contact with the very special horses and ponies that are lucky enough to live at Foxdale. Nothing is forced. Quiet, calm, gentle, happy are some of the words I would use to describe Foxdale. When the day is over it is always with reluctance that we leave.
We believe in the importance of building credibility based on evidence, which is why we use pre- and post-course self-assessment questionnaires and qualitative feedback from our client groups. Building and developing an evidence base for prospective clients, future research and funding.