Mossburn Community Farm – Learning with Horses
Located near Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway, Mossburn Community Farm was originally set up in 1987 to provide help for misused, abused, unwanted and neglected horses and ponies as well as young people with physical and mental problems.
The farm was awarded a grant from the Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company of £49,998 in 2016 to fund salary and administration costs for three years. The grant has enabled the farm to develop its provision of equine-assisted therapies "Learning with Horses". The programme integrates horses into the treatment process for people suffering from many issues, including mental and physical disabilities.
The farm runs sessions for people from all different walks of life and for varying ages from children as young as five years old to senior citizens who come for weekly sessions as part of an Alzheimer’s group.
It works closely with local schools and has regular clients with behavioural issues and learning difficulties. Coming into the countryside away from a formal setting allows the children to have new experiences with the ponies and other animals, talk freely about their anxieties, and process their thoughts and feelings. Children attend from local schools either in pairs or small groups. The programme also supports self-referring individuals who have a variety of issues.
"I love it so much here! I want to live here!"
Seven year-old programme particpant
The University of the West of Scotland are monitoring the effects of the dementia-friendly sessions on people with dementia and their families. The results of this study will enable the farm to further develop the activities to gain the maximum benefit for dementia patients.
"I was quite anxious before coming the first week but I love it and look forward to my Thursday afternoons."
Dementia programme particpant
The project outcomes are to:
- Enable the development of a self-sustaining social enterprise that will employ up to three FTE posts, providing a stimulus to the local rural economy.
- Provide equine-assisted therapy to up to 120 people with behavioural, substance misuse or mental health issues.