Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship

Wonderful New Horse Charity

When I was researching The Horse Whisperer, I became aware of the astonishing transformative effect horses can have on young people who, for various reasons, are finding life difficult. Since then I have been looking for an organisation that uses human/horse contact to build self-confidence and trust. Not long ago, I stumbled – almost literally – across Sirona.

Just across the river from where I live in South-West England, is the beautiful Dartington Estate. Two or (if I’m feeling unusually energetic) three times a week, I canoe across and go for a run along the River Dart then up through the woods and over the fields. One day I noticed some smart new barns were being built and soon there were horses grazing there. Then a sign went up SIRONA THERAPEUTIC HORSEMANSHIP.

I got in touch and asked if I could come and visit. Dr Hannah Burgon, who founded Sirona gave me a great welcome and introduced me to the dedicated people – and horses – she works with. Pretty soon she asked if I would be their patron. I was honoured to accept.


Sirona helps disadvantaged young people and adults get to know and work with horses. The aim is to increase wellbeing and resilience so they can develop more positive lives.

Those who come to Sirona have many different support needs. Some are youngsters on the autistic spectrum, some with learning or other disabilities. Others are struggling with traditional education or suffering from anxiety or in need of support with various mental health issues. With the help of professional equine practitioners and qualified therapists, these people begin to grow self-confidence and self-esteem. And in learning new relationship and communication skills, they open up new opportunities for themselves in education, training or work, and develop a more positive attitude in everyday life.

Recently we launched a new ‘Sponsor a Pony’ scheme, where people interested in supporting the work of the charity can sponsor a pony of their choice for the year. As little as £3 a month will help pay towards the horses feed and upkeep costs, and sponsors get the opportunity to visit their pony and learn about how they help young people to have more positive lives. Many of the horses and ponies at Sirona are rescue animals who have been given a new purpose in life at the centre.

To find out more about Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship or to request a Sponsor a Pony form, visit Also, you can follow their activities on their Facebook page.