Welcome to Foxfields Therapeutic Horse Riding Centre
At Foxfields Therapeutic Horse Riding Centre we offer Equine-Assisted Therapy sessions for individuals with disabilities and special educational needs. Working with horses can improve social, cognitive and physical skills, as well as being an enjoyable activity for all ages. Established in July 2019, Foxfields is a 4* Centre licensed by Bolton Council.
License Number: M132730
License Holder: Clare O'Donnell
Tailored to the Individual
All of our sessions are tailored to the needs of each individual. Focussing on progression to achieving their own personal goals.
Benefits of Horse Riding
The three dimensional movement of the horse helps riders to build core strength, improve balance, develop coordination and enhance posture. It is also an activity those with limited mobility can take part in and feel a sense of freedom. All riders progress differently with some riders gaining the benefits from walking on the horse, with others progressing to trotting and cantering independently. Each rider is individual with their own personal goals.
Effect on Mental Health
Working with horses can help improve self-confidence, reduce anxiety and stress and increase positive thinking. Horses respond to individuals instantly but in a non-judgemental way. Individuals can learn to trust and form a relationship with a horse with many referring to a horse as a companion. In a stable yard setting individuals don't feel the same pressure they might feel in a traditional talking therapy setting.
Situated on the outskirts of Rivington
We have access to fantastic off-road hacking and our sessions provide an excellent way to experience the great outdoors. The location of our site means we have regular visits from our local wildlife including foxes and deer.
Sessions are ideal for siblings to take part in together. Regardless of their individual needs, ages or abilities, sessions can be tailored to provide them with enjoyable activities.
Work with many types of animals has been found to have therapeutic effects for individuals with additional needs. Horses have certain unique qualities which sets apart Equine-Assisted Therapy. Horses are constantly observing a person's behaviour. They give instant feedback on an individual's behaviour and body language. The benefit of this is the horse's ability to teach an individual to self-regulate their interactions. If a person becomes aggressive or anxious the horse will react instantly. In order to undertake tasks with the horse, an individual must work to communicate successfully with the horse. The skills learnt from communicating with a horse can be applied to everyday human to human communication.
Horses rely on humans to provide a high level of care. They require carefully managed diets, exercise regimes, daily grooming and mucking out as well as regular hoof care and visits from other professionals such as vets, dentists and physios. Many of the skills used whilst caring for horses can be transferred to improve clients own self-care and independent living. Managing a horses diet, measuring feeds, monitoring water intake is equivalent to an individual eating a healthy diet. Daily grooming of horses can be compared to an individual's own daily hygiene regime, in the same way the need to exercise a horse is exactly the same as us taking part in our own daily exercise. Helping to care for our horses can help individuals understand the need to care for themselves in order to stay fit and healthy.
What age can children start riding?
Children can take part in sessions from age 2 years. We advise that children under 4 years of age ride for a maximum of 15 minutes.
What happens if it rains?
Ridden sessions take place in our outdoor arena meaning if it rains sessions will still go ahead and riders should therefore dress appropriately. Clients always have the option of horse care activities if it rains, these can take place inside. Should the weather be unsuitable for the session to take place we may have to rearrange the session but this would be discussed with the client/parent/carer. We always try to provide an alternative i.e horse care for clients that would find the cancellation of a session too disruptive to their routine.
How much does it cost?
Due to the variety of sessions we offer prices vary. 30 minute sessions usually cost between £15-£20 for one person. Contact us for more exact pricing.
Can siblings take part?
Absolutely! Sessions are a great activity for siblings to do together regardless of their ages and abilities. Sessions must be booked for the number of individuals taking part to ensure we have enough members of staff present.
Are sessions one-to-one?
The majority of our sessions are one-to-one, this means the client benefits as much from the session as possible. If required we can have additional staff present to support riders in the saddle or assist with mounting/dismounting. Contact us to discuss this further if you have any particular concerns/queries.
What to wear?
We have riding hats for clients to use. Clients should wear comfortable clothing. Ideally footwear with a small heel (prevents the foot slipping through the stirrup). We also have body protectors available should clients wish to wear them. All safety equipment must comply with current BHS guidelines, clients are welcome to use their own but this will be checked for safety by a member of staff.
When do sessions take place?
Foxfields is open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm. Booking is essential, as sessions are individual. Client sessions are booked throughout the day.
Reach North West
Foxfields is working alongside Reach North West to support individuals with Autism and their families.
Reach North West is a Bolton based voluntary community interest group that supports children and families affected by Autism and other social & communication difficulties.
Our mission: Reach North West is committed to empowering parents and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to enable their children to flourish.
We help children to REACH their true potential by providing services that assist children to overcome communication difficulties and barriers to learning using a multidisciplinary approach. We also run activities for our children and support our families via get togethers, support meet ups and self care groups. In addition we also provide practical advice, we provide information, training and build lasting partnerships with families, schools and other professionals.
Click the logo above to be directed to the website.
The A World UK
The A World UK is working in partnership with Foxfields to provide children and young adults (aged 2-25) with an Autism Spectrum Disorder with FREE taster sessions (Contact The A World UK directly)
The A World UK CIC is a non-profit organisation based in the North West of England.
Our aim is to help and support the Autistic Community and their families/carers. We aim to be an advocate for Autism and raise awareness within the community, by promoting acceptance and inclusion.
We are continuously expanding and developing our services, activities, and community shops, to support even more areas
Meet the Team
Meet our amazing team of four-legged friends.
Clare has owned Bella since 2013, she was her first horse. Bella's journey has had many ups and downs, in 2016 she had to undergo invasive surgery on her back. Ridden prognosis was very poor, but despite the odds Bella made a full recovery and Clare enjoyed a few more years of low-level competing and generally having fun! Sadly Bella's injuries got the better of her and she is no longer ridden however she is fully enjoying her life in retirement. Bella is used for horse care sessions, she is especially patient letting even the smallest children brush her. When she's not in her stable you'll usually find her in the field with Betty and Connie.
Betty has been with us since 2017, she came to us never having been ridden before. Emma and Clare backed her and still continue with her education. She is such a versatile mare, she's happy to take things steady with a less experienced rider, but also can step up for more experienced riders on the flat and with jumping.
Irish Sports Horse
Connie has been at Foxfields since 2018. She came to continue her education after having an unfortunate accident and injuring her back. Thankfully it all healed and it now does not affect her in any way. Connie has made so much progress during her time with us and is now a confident mare with a great attitude towards her work. She loves hacking out and is used for advanced riders both on the flat and for jumping. She is rather talented over a fence.
Fleur is one of our smallest horses, but don't be fooled by her size, she can be very bossy! You might see Fleur accompanying some of the other horses on their hacks, this is to ensure she gets her exercise. Fleur is not ridden but she takes part in all horse care sessions, she especially enjoys taking part in leading sessions.
Hamish has been at Foxfields since 2017. He is well known for his very long mane and feathers! He is often used to teach beginners as he is very patient and happy to take it steady. He enjoys hacking and will go for hours exploring around Rivington.
Clare has owned Jupiter since 2016. He is one of the biggest horses at Foxfields. He is a very cheeky character always checking his visitors pockets for any treats! He loves jumping and has been known to jump out of the field. He is used for advanced riders both on the flat and for jumping.
Pippin is our oldest resident and has been with us since 2018. Before coming to us Pippin had been in a riding school for over ten years so she is very experienced at teaching children to ride. Pippin is such a versatile pony, and has quite the fan club! She's happy to take things slow and is so careful with her beginner riders, but when she gets to cantering and jumping she's super speedy! She really is a very special pony.
Clare has owned Roanan since 2013. He is very experienced in teaching people to ride. He is an older horse so takes part in our lower-intensity sessions and he loves hacking. Roanan has a very strict diet, which means he loves having carrots and apples as treats, his favourite is definitely turnips though!
Smudge has been at Foxfields since 2019. His previous owner wanted him to come here because he is so good at teaching beginners to ride. He is also happy to step up a level for more experienced riders, he especially loves his jumping!.
Tilly has been with us since 2019, when she arrived with her baby Toffee. She might only be small but she is definitely one of the loudest and makes sure everyone can hear her. Tilly has settled into her new life with us, previously she lived with alpacas. Tilly takes part in all of our horse care sessions, she loves going out for walks and she will stand to be pampered for hours.
Toffee has been at Foxfields since 2019 when she arrived with her Mum, Tilly. Toffee is too young to be ridden so she spends most of her day playing out with the other ponies. We have high hopes for our youngest resident when she grows up.
Winnie has been at Foxfields since 2018. She is a very sociable pony and she has excellent stable manners, she will stand to be brushed for hours! Winnie is happy to take things steady with the smallest of riders but is also able to teach the more experienced riders. She might not be the biggest pony, but Winnie can keep up with the big horses when she goes out galloping, she is very quick!
Chester is Amber's s pony and has been here since 2017. Chester is well known for sucking his tongue, he usually does it after eating something sweet. He loves hacking out and will go exploring for hours, he never gets tired! Chester is used for some ridden sessions, but as he is still learning he is only used selectively. He has excellent stable manners and is used for all aspects of horse care.
Thornton is owned by Emma and has been here since 2017. He isn't used for any of our sessions but he is always happy to greet our visitors. Thornton used to be a racehorse and he still enjoys going for a gallop. He can often be seen playing out with Jupiter, they are quite a comical duo, often pulling each others boots off or sharing the same piece of hay.
Dinky has been at Foxfields since May 2020 coming to us from World Horse Welfare Penny Farm. He is such a happy horse and is a firm favourite with our clients due to his calm nature. Despite being an older horse he loves his job and is never short of energy! When he isn't working he enjoys spending time in the field with Pippin, if Pippin goes anywhere without him you'll hear him whinnying for her!
Tally has been with us since August 2020. She joined up from a trekking centre in Scotland that was closing. She arrived with Fliss and the two have been friends since. They enjoy their time out in the field and are often never far away from each other.
Fliss is one of our younger horses. She joined us as a longer term project. She had a slow introduction to sessions but has been a fantastic addition to our team. She absolutely loves hacking out and for her age is so brave! She is continuing her education in the school, and therefore is only ridden by more experienced riders.
Meet Our Staff
Clare studied Equine Science at Myerscough College, gaining an FdSc with Distinction, a First Class BSc (Hons) and an MSc with Distinction. Upon completion of her studies Foxfields was founded, facilitating Equine-Assisted Learning to improve the lives of many individuals with additional needs.
Barbara can often be seen on the yard caring for the horses and occasionally can be seen riding! Formerly, Barbara worked in a nursery with Early Years children, since retiring she enjoys spending time with the horses and assisting with clients.
Yard Manager & Instructor
Emma has been around horses all of her life, having worked in various equine establishments. She is a fully qualified BHSAI.