New research by the University of Exeter Business School will assess the benefits of a programme where horses are central to improving mental health and wellbeing.

Horsemanship for Health UK, a community interest company, runs courses for the NHS and other organisations, where participants can develop their self-understanding and deepen relationships through direct contact with horses.

The programme works with people suffering from a range of mental health conditions or issues which impact upon their wellbeing.

Dr Donna Poade from the University has been awarded funding to evaluate how effective the programme is and the impact it can have on an individual’s life.

She said: “The feedback from people taking part in Horsemanship for Health has been incredibly positive.

"It ties in with other work demonstrating the impact on wellbeing and mental health of innovative therapies based on mindfulness principles.

“What we want to do is to measure that impact, the benefits and value of the programme, with the results then shared with policy makers and NHS professionals who consider the options for treating those with mental health conditions.”