Supported Helper Programme

The Supported Helper Programme is designed to enable children, teenagers and/or adults with varying support needs and interests to learn about how to care and look after the horses that live in Festina Lente. A key focus of this programme is on the experiential nature of the individuals learning. 

There is no riding involved. The overall aim of this programme is to provide opportunities for people which will ultimately provide scope for learning, thereby encouraging growth in the areas of decision making, responsibility, independence, self-confidence, communication and self-esteem amongst other domains. The programme takes place within the equestrian environment where everybody’s efforts toward the care of horses is valued and recognized.

Programme supports are tailored to the learning style and ability of each person with typical ratios of 1:1 or 1:2.


“I go twice a week to SHP at Festina Lente with Roisin who is so friendly and encouraging . I love bringing the horses in from the field , feeding and grooming them. The lovely Maxwell, Daisy and Harry are my horse friends now and we have great bond”

Ross Devereux


Do I need to have horse-riding experience?

As there is not riding involved in the Supported Helper Programme – horse riding experience is not necessary

Can I book one session?

Whilst generally people book a series of Supported Helpers sessions, it is possible to book one session during the school holidays or subject to availability to try out this programme and see if it matches expectations.

How long is a session?

Sessions are typically between 30 and 60 minutes.

What happens in a session ?

This will depend entirely on the reasons why a person joins the Supported Helper Programme which will usually inform the session content.However, the range of activities include grooming, bringing ponies in and out of the fields, preparing feeds, tacking up, mucking out stables and all other duties associated with care and welfare of horse.

Do lessons / sessions run Monday to Friday or Monday to Sunday?

The Supported Helper Programme is provided 7 days a week

If I am nervous, can someone come with me?

Absolutely.All and any supports that somebody would like can be part of the session.

I have some challenges to learning, can I still book a session / lesson?

This programme is specifically designed for people whose learning and support needs may not be typically accommodated in similar equestrian environments.All learning supports are accommodated through the structure of this programme.

I have some physical challenges, can these be facilitated?

To date we have facilitated people living with a variety of physical challenges and so far have been able to provide this programme.  A visit to the facility is a great way to assess how best our environment meets your physical needs and what else can be done in the event that additional supports may be necessary.

I’m interested in a few of your courses, how do I know which one suits me best?

This is a really good question as there are various programmes.  In the event that you would like to develop a more informed understanding of the programme and the best one for you please contact the Equestrian Learning Center Manager Clodagh Carey at

How do I book?

Book online here


Contact Nicola at or telephone 01-2720704 Ext. 213.

What H and S procedures are in place during Covid 19 if I am taking lessons?

H & S is paramount in Festina Lente and once bookings are made new clients are sent a H & S information booklet which outlines all existing and pandemic-specific procedures that the organization has adopted.

In addition:

  • All coaches and clients wear masks
  • All equipment is sanitized in between sessions
  • Social distancing rules apply
  • Hands are continually washed and sanitized with sanitising stations throughout the yard and site area
I have more questions, who can I ask?

Roisin Gregory Cameron is the Supported Helper Co-ordinator and she can be contacted at