The place

The place SpiritAtPlay is an outdoor environment for learning to care for horses and to help people of all ages who are not coping with their life issues. We have a beautiful 10 acres of grounds which overlooks a wide vista ofthe Leicestershire countryside. Visitors say that the site brings feelings of peace and tranquillity and gives a real feeling of freedom combined with safety as carers have full vision of the children whilst they get involved with the horses.
We have made good progress over the last two years to build the SpiritAtPlay centre which comprises: wheelchair accessible track around the fields, equipment room, log cabin meeting room and four shelters for the horses. On site there are shelters for the horses to choose to protected from the weather, a meeting room which overlooks the yard and shelters so that the less confident visitors can watch from the safety of the room until their confidence builds. There is a hard standing track suitable for wheelchairs all the way around.

Who is Sprit at Play for?

People involved with this project will be the children with special needs and their families, Parents/Carers. They will be allowed a time to take in the tranquillity of the Centre whilst the children carry out tasks with the horses together or if they wish they can join in throughout the session making. In some tasks this will be encourages as a means to make the family stronger through working together.

We have had dozens of young people who are struggling to cope with school environment come to us and learn about themselves and the emotions that stop them being able to participate in school life, it helps them to cope. Joining SpiritAtPlay has proved to open many young people up to the learning process as they experience much throughout the session about the environment around them and their impact.

SpiritAtPlay Aim and Objectives

Aim: To provide a natural and safe environment where rescued horses have the freedom to use their natural herd instincts. To use this setting as a means to enable children with extra needs to develop their life skills in communicating and self-managing their emotions.

Objectives:

  • To accommodate at least five rescued horses at any one time
  • To provide facilities for the horses according to their needs and a suitable setting for children with extra needs to interact safely with them.
  • To help between 24 and 36 families per year with 4 sessions per family to interact with the horses as a means of enhancing health and well-being.

Meet the team – personal descriptions Judith Edwards – owner and centre manager Judith Edwards is qualified as a Hypnotherapist and NLP (neuro linguistic programming) Practitioner, she has also done a short course in Physiology. Having a life long love of horses, riding from the age of 11, owning her own horse at the age of 15 she is convinced of the healing powers of horses. In 2000 the first horse of the herd she now owns found her. In the following years 6 more came to Judith through owners who misunderstood them or they were injured and the owner didn’t want to spend the time to help them. Although the horses have had chronic injuries and ailments meaning they cannot be ridden, interacting with them on the ground has unique qualities and benefits. Judith trained them to be handled in a very unique way, letting them have freedom of space and free will. David Thompson – Stable Manager Richard Featherstone – Volunteer fundraiser and development worker

SpiritAtPlay history – how we have developed

We founded SpiritAtPlay in May 2005 located in Markfield Leicestershire. After several happy years of involving children interacting with the horses and a great team of volunteers the lease on our land ran out and we had to move to a new location in Illston on the Hill where we currently reside. We put in a great deal of effort during 2017 and 2018 to construct the centre and get back to being able to offer a service of equine assisted learning. Thanks to our very understanding landlord and donations from local businesses we have successfully built up the facilities we need and an ideal home for the horses.

How we are funded

SpiritAtPlay is run on a daily basis by an unpaid, dedicated and committed team. We are always trying to raise funds to provide the equine assisted learning by applying for grants. Recently we have been fortunate to be awarded a grant from the Big Lottery which enables us to offer the Families United project for those who cannot afford to pay for sessions or have no access to funding. In the past two years we have been able to build our centre with the support of local businesses. We owe much thanks to the many generous donations of in-kind support from local businesses: La Farge - tonnes of hard-core Bardon Aggregates - tonnes of aggregate Astley’s Fencing - fencing and timber for the shelters Pochin – disabled access toilet Morgan Sinall Builders – plywood sheets Jelson Builders – hundreds of scaffold planks Leics and Rutland Community Fund - lorry backs for conversion into shelters Tim Walker Ltd - lorry backs for conversion into shelters Leics County Council - log cabin facilities Permission Homes - roofing for shelters

Our network of supporters and help agencies

We aim to develop a list of registered agencies who can refer families to us. at the moment this list comprises:

Meet the team

Judith Edwards
Owner and centre manager

Judith Edwards is qualified as a Hypnotherapist and NLP (neuro linguistic programming) Practitioner, she has also done a short course in Physiology.

Having a life long love of horses, riding from the age of 11, owning her own horse at the age of 15 she is convinced of the healing powers of horses. In 2000 the first horse of the herd she now owns found her. In the following years 6 more came to Judith through owners who misunderstood them or they were injured and the owner didn’t want to spend the time to help them.

Although the horses have had chronic injuries and ailments meaning they cannot be ridden, interacting with them on the ground has unique qualities and benefits.

Judith trained them to be handled in a very unique way, letting them have freedom of space and free will.

David Thompson
Stable Manager

 

Richard Featherstone
Volunteer fundraiser and development worker