Tiernan O’Neil

Principal Corpus Christi national school, Moyross Limerick

“Corpus Christi Primary School firmly believes in the philosophy that education leads to opportunity. Our Equine Assisted Learning programmes are prime examples of how programmes that are tailored to meet the needs and interests of the children can break the cycle of educational underachievement.

The Equine programmes that Lesley and her team are constantly refining and enhancing have raised self esteem, built confidence and improved behaviour whilst also improving numeracy and literacy skills within the school.

Lesley’s holistic approach to the development of the child, using the horse as an educational and therapeutic tool, has undoubtedly made a remarkable difference to the life outcomes of numerous children in Corpus Christi Primary School.”

Andrew Broderick

Parent of Connor

My son Connor has special needs (ASD). As Connor is a very active kid a friend suggested that I try horse riding as an activity for him, I was given Mrs Lesley Jones name to contact at Ballycreen Farm.

On my first visit to Ballycreen Farm, I could not believe the effect the whole environment and surroundings had on Connor, the horses, the farm animals, the trees, the calmness, but most of all, the wonderful people that welcomed us with sincere smiles, supportive hugs/ high fives and enthusiastic attitudes to letting Connor experience the farm at his own pace and in his own way.

I was advised by Connor’s Occupational therapist that Horse riding may meet many of the sensory needs that Connor is searching for. The movement and feedback provided from the horse riding sessions has had a calming effect on Connor, who is often over-excited and therefore finds the task of remaining seated while learning more difficult.

I could not believe my eyes when I seen Connor, Lesley and the horse all breathing in sink at a slower pace than Connor would normally breathe when he is excited. Lesley’s ability to teach Connor how to slow down his breathing patterns in order to relax him was unbelievable and magical to witness. I am in no doubt that the horse riding sessions which Connor loves are assisting the Occupational therapy he receives at school and greatly improving Connor’s ability to sit and learn over longer periods.

Ann Kavanagh

Professional Social Worker, Sunbeam House Services.

“It is difficult to put into words the deep level of therapy gained from these sessions as it’s a sense of feeling, belonging, neutrality and therapy.

The workshops helped the people who have both physical, mental and intellectual disabilities to totally relax, almost a sense of escapism.  This process then allowed for open learning and better concentration.  As a professional social care worker I really noticed a big difference in the way that our services users connected to the animals through nonverbal communication and verbal communication.  A real partnership was forming throughout the sessions over time.  Leslie who is the trained animal therapist had a profile of each individual beforehand and was able then to tap into any current difficulties in which the person was experiencing.

Some of our service users developed a real sense of belonging and pride in what they were doing, teaming up with their partner in order to finish tasks and develop relationships.  We really felt that the world od disability was invisible on these sessions and the focus was on the animals and the tasks in hand.  A sense of achievement comes to mind while watching these remarkable people work a farm together and nature and care for the animals reversing their normal daily roles in life themselves.

It has been a few months now since our sessions have ended and the service users are still talking about the care farming workshops and when the next one is happening.”

Andrew O’Byrne

Principal of St. Augustine’s School, YEP Limerick

“St. Augustine’s School have been involved with Lesley for a number of years, this ranged from bespoke equine programmes, equine assisted learning, equine therapy to formal FETAC courses. These programmes, through the use of the horse, have been a very powerful instrument of change on an educational, therapeutic, engagement and holistic front. Lesley has adapted the programmes to meet the needs of the young people involved, very quickly building warm, caring, positive relationships. Lesley has an uncanny ability to thinking both ‘inside and outside the box’ in delivering these courses and we look forward to our continued association with Lesley and the equine initiatives.”

Eddie O’Shaughnessy

Co-ordinator of Garda Youth Diversion Project

“The Garda Project has worked with Ballycreen Farm and Lesley Jones for the last six years. The aim of the program was to achieve positive developmental (educational, changes in aspirations / expectations) and behavioural outcomes (reduced incidences of offending, anti-social behaviour, reduction in incidences of violent / aggressive behaviour in school and in the home) for families and children on the Northside of Limerick.

I can say that the work we have achieved to date in integrating equine programs into our work would not have been possible without Lesley and Ballycreen farm. The Success we have been able to support Lesley in delivering has not only been practical but has been inspirational not only to our participants but to ourselves”

Social Care Support Worker

Sunbeam House Services for adults with intellectual disabilities.

“The facilitators running the session were fantastic with all the clients and really spent time interacting with them and finding out what would benefit them the most from the sessions. Both James and Sean were really relaxed in the environment and enjoyed all the sensory aspects from the smells, to the bleeting of the lambs and the feel of their wool.”

“Both clients were very relaxed and really benefited from meeting other service users as well as looking after the animals and hearing stories and socialising with the therapists and volunteers.”