Our horses and ponies welfare is paramount to us. All horses and ponies that work in Festina Lente are carefully trained and cared for by our staff to be suitable for working in our different lessons and programmes. We spend a lot of time, money and effort ensuring our horses are happy and healthy working with us.
When our equine reach a stage in their lives that full time working is not an option for them any more they are relocated to our retirement pastures to happily and healthy live out the rest of their days under staff care and supervision. Our retired horses and ponies get the same amount of care and attention as our working horses and ponies.
Festina Lente has developed a Horse Retirement programme where a group of men and women with an intellectual disability from the Festina Lente Saol Anois day service care for and ensure the welfare of the retired horses under staff supervision which has shown to improve the person’s own self-worth and personal responsibility.
In their own words here are some descriptions of the work the Saol Anois service users do with our retired horses:
Gillian: When all the horses are feed and are at the other end of the field and I am aware that they are all settled I go to Manus and stand where his shoulder is so he feels comfortable. I check his condition by putting on his body and moving my hand around his body and feeling if there is any lumps and bumps or cuts. I pick out his hooves and see if his hooves are good and have no thrush or stones caught as these would bruse his hoof.
Why I really care about Manus and really have a close bond with him is because he was a rescue horse and when he was brought in by Festina Lente I have been experiencing difficulties in my life at the time he arrived. I was on an EAL lesson with him and when I was there I had never felt so loved by a horse who was traumatised before he was rescued and yet he felt happy to trust me and at that point he made me feel good, relaxed and showed me that I can trust and how to learn when I get anxious. He knows when I am anxious and he will only come over when I have relaxed so he reminds me to relax and this is why I love caring for him because we both help each other so much.
Julianne: I check Tammy under her rug to make sure she is dry and warm, I check her ears to see if they are hot or cold and I pick out her hooves. I check her tail for briars and twigs. I will be able to fully groom her again in the spring time. Tammy is my favourite horse, I give her lots of special TLC as she is my baby and I bring her and the other horses healthy treats.
Peter: I help out in the yard of Festina Lente. I muck out, bring horses out to and from the grazing field and I sweep the yard and clean it up, sometimes I tack up the horses and ponies. I enjoy being on the yard and working with the horses and equestrian staff and doing equestrian work.