1. Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Rachael Blackmore, Cian O’Connor and Nina Carberry ‘Champion’ Festina Lente’s Campaign to Raise A Critical €3 Million To Secure A New Home

– Hasten Not!! Festina Lente Charity To Gallop Ahead To
Create A New Training Centre For Children With Special Needs –

Wednesday, 6 April 2022: Ireland’s equine stars Rachael Blackmore, Cian O’Connor and Nina Carberry championed support today at Dartmouth Square to help raise an essential €3 million to secure a new home for Ireland’s top equine and horticultural learning charity for those with special needs and a further €20 million to develop it.

Festina Lente currently homed in Bray, needs to urgently raise €3 million to secure the purchase of Belfield House and lands in Kilpeddar, County Wicklow in order to ensure its survival and facilitate a move and expansion. The Charity described as ‘World Class’ is a leader in the field of equine assisted learning for those with special needs, employs 60 staff and touches the lives of over 40,000 Irish people each year.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner and Ambassador to Festina Lente, Rachael Blackmore, championed the appeal ‘I was lucky to spend time with some of the children at Festina Lente recently. They are all champions, keen to learn and benefit from the special connection horses have with humans. Festina Lente’s extensive list of programmes offer a future path in life to those in need. This is why raising the funds to secure their new home is critical.’

Dr. Jill Carey is Ireland’s first PhD Holder in Equine Assisted Learning for youths at risk. As CEO of the Charity she has been on a mission to help those with special needs through the beneficial power of the horse and related therapies. Festina Lente was set up in 1988 with just one borrowed horse and one pupil, but quickly developed a worldwide reputation for its equestrian programs.
It provides services to people affected by disability, diverse learning abilities, self-esteem issues and those from socio economic disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition, it is a key provider of educational training programmes to adult learners wishing to deliver these programmes within their own geographical area in Ireland.

Irish show jumping Olympian and Owner of the Karlswood High Performance Centre,
Cian O’Connor claims, ‘Festina Lente works across all the worlds within the Irish horse industry, all disciplines which is something that the Irish horse industry should be very proud of at home and abroad.’ Queen of RTE’s Dancing With The Stars, Nina Carberry, knows a lot about winning and not just on the racecourse! Nina adds, ‘Festina Lente’s work illustrates that horses benefit all, I’m delighted to lend my support today and hope people will donate and support them in securing their new home.’

Dr. Jill Carey explains how horses benefit humans from different perspectives, she claims, ‘From therapeutic riding which uses the natural movement of the horse for the physical improvement for people with a physical disability to equine assisted learning, which uses the natural behaviour of the horse to help people develop their self and social awareness, the benefits are immense’.

13 year old Rachael Doak from Wicklow is just one of the children who has been attending Festina Lente since the early age of two to help with cerebral palsy in her legs. Rachael explains, ‘On a horse you become one, I remember falling in love with ‘Beauty’ when I was very small … that horse literally became part of me, my body, the horse was my legs giving me a freedom to be just ‘me’. Festina Lente is a second home for me, it was so much more than physiotherapy on a horse, it’s part of my story.’

Festina Lente’s future plan is to build a state-of-the-art National Education Centre to continue their work and take on the skilled and time-consuming process of retraining and re-purposing racehorses, enabling these animals to have a second career in riding clubs, dressage, show jumping and in certain equine assisted learning programmes. As part of this, Festina Lente will develop an accredited training programme for equestrians wishing to learn how to look after and work with ex-race horses.

Champion trainer Willie Mullins commented, ‘Festina Lente is recognised for its work not only in Ireland but worldwide and Dr. Jill Carey and her team are the undoubted experts and go to people in this unique field of assisted learning. Faced with ever increasing demands for its services and lengthy waiting lists Festina Lente is rising to the challenges. It’s new home will not only accommodate more students but will offer it the opportunity to rehouse and retrain racehorses together with a new course teaching retraining skills.’

Suzanne Eade, Chief Executive, Horse Racing Ireland, ‘Festina Lente provides fantastic equine assisted learning and therapeutic horse-riding programmes and their work has a huge impact, not only in Ireland, but across Europe. Their development plans are fittingly ambitious and absolutely crucial, and on behalf of Horse Racing Ireland I’m delighted to join Rachael, Nina and Willie in wishing Festina Lente the best in their fundraising campaign.’

People can donate to support Festina Lente, directly online on www.festinalente.ie/a-new-home-for-Festina-Lente/

For more information interview, or photography contact:
Tracy Kelly Public Relations, m 087 2025160, e tracy@tracykellypr.ie

More about Festina Lente
Festina Lente has historically been best known for its role in the development of equine based programmes which promote the physical, psychosocial and mental well-being programmes of people affected by disability and /or socio economic disadvantage. More recently it has gained significant reputation in the development of social and therapeutic horticulture as a modality for improving peoples’ well-being.