'Ponies inspiring people':
Opening minds and healing hearts
DPHT has built a strong reputation for our courses for young people with challenging behaviour and/or disabilities, working with Dartmoor ponies.
Our aim is to create opportunities for young people to meet their full potential and to provide them with a set of social and emotional skills that will allow them to participate more effectively in everyday life and, potentially, move into long-term employment.
We offer a flexible range of proven courses for students facing such challenges as:
Lack of self-esteem and confidence
Attention and behaviour deficits
Forming a relationship with a pony helps young people to build trust and develop a bond of mutual empathy. They learn to face their fears, and develop respect and compassion. At the same time, they improve their communication skills, coping techniques, self-confidence and self-esteem: skills they need to deal with many aspects of everyday life.
We provide bespoke courses for individual students. Please contact us to discuss your group's or client's needs. We currently work with primary and secondary school students on the autistic spectrum, young people with challenging behaviours and students with profound multiple disabilities.
Please contact us if you would like to book your group on to a PIP session. 01626 833234 or
We also run a range of primary and secondary education activities including free guided walks on Dartmoor: See school groups
My class were fortunate to be able to enjoy 12 sessions at the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust. All the children are on the Autistic spectrum with communication and interaction needs and varying degrees of learning difficulties. The volunteers were all highly skilled and showed great understanding and care for the varying needs of the children.
The whole class (including staff) derived enormous benefits from our visits. All children showed a great improvement in their communication skills, willingly interacting with familiar and unfamiliar adults appropriately and also showing improved interpersonal skills with each other. Their listening skills and their ability to follow more complex instructions was challenged and as a consequence, these skills improved too.
I was able to link our visits to the ponies to a number of curriculum areas when we were back in school and our visits to the ponies become and integral part of classroom work. It gave a variety of subjects a link to real life situations which motivated the children to learn.
The main curriculum links were:
English: Speaking and listening, reading, independent writing, listening to a story
Maths: 1:1 correspondence, addition, subtraction, division (sharing)
PSHE: Caring for animals, caring for others, saying please and thank you, working together, sharing, eating together and table manners
I would like to thank Dru and the team (and the ponies) for their care of the children and for enabling them to make so much progress in so many areas of their personal and academic development
Orchard Manor School
John Mash Drive
“The work by Dru and DPHT is most likened to ‘Equine Facilitated Learning’ (EFL), an intervention which utilises horses to teach people about themselves in the hope of bringing about positive change via the learning of skills, although the inclusion of wild Dartmoor ponies offers a variation to the normal protocol. Participants seem to form a bond with both Dru and the ponies, which allows them to receive constructive feedback in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way so that the participants can come to know themselves better and witness how their actions can have consequences. Skills learnt are said to include team work and social skills, trust and motivation which in turn contribute to the building of self-esteem whilst improving empathy, effective ways of managing feelings and developing greater self-awareness, all important social and emotional skills.”
Dawn Chaplin and Katy Hurworth - Final Year BSc (Hons) Psychology Undergraduates, Plymouth University