He needed a lot of healing himself, but now rescue horse Paddy is a leader in equine-assisted therapy and helping troubled humans regain their confidence and rebuild their lives.
Paddy, now 12, was awarded into the care of World Horse Welfare four years ago when his owner was found guilty of neglect under an offence of the Animal Welfare Act. He was cared for at Glenda Spooner Farm, the charity’s Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Somerset, for almost a year before he was fit and healthy enough to be rehomed.
He was totally shut down to human interaction when he was rescued but is now helping troubled humans at an equine therapy charity in Hampshire. Paddy is also the star of a video recently released by World Horse Welfare on therapy horses.
Paddy has joined two other World Horse Welfare rescue horses, Blackie and Exmoor pony Tommy, at Tower House Horses in Winchester. Tommy has been with Tower House founder Susie Little for 20 years.
The horses work with victims of domestic abuse, previous offenders, people with alcohol and substance misuse issues, young people with anxiety and depression.
“The great thing about horses is that they are incredibly healing and empathetic to be around,” Little said.
“We work with them to help our clients rebuild their confidence and self-esteem, to gain emotional resilience, improve their ability to communicate and just generally go away feeling uplifted by having spent time with these wonderful creatures.
“The wonderful thing about horses is that what we do with them works with a whole variety of people because it gets right down to the core, the lack of self-esteem, the lack of confidence that people come with,” Little said.
“Paddy, Blackie and Tommy show the great power of horses to heal people. It’s beautiful to see the horses interact with people, they don’t judge you. All three of these horses come from traumatic backgrounds themselves.
“They bring a lot to the therapeutic process because they’ve got the lived experience, they’ve been there, got the t-shirt.”
Penny Baker, the World Horse Welfare Field Officer who was involved in the initial assessment and rescue of Paddy, said that people were beginning to realise that there were many jobs that horses can do, not just the traditional ridden, driven or companion roles.
“Using horses in a therapy environment is becoming more and more popular because people are recognizing what kind of valuable input the horse can have on human lives. It’s about looking after the partnership and that special relationship that horses can have with humans.”