The Mane Chance Sanctuary
In 2011 Jenny Seagrove started this horse sanctuary when she became aware of the pain, neglect and abuse of horses in Surrey. In helping the horses it was soon realised that a circle of care formed, where the horses helped children and adults emotionally. Animals are sentient, sensitive beings. The motto of the sanctuary is “Transforming Lives Together”. The Charity wants to educate and lead in terms of animal welfare, with the horses working in a partnership of mutual help.
Many community groups and schools know how the peaceful interaction between the horses and people brings joy. The Chance2Be programme assists young people with low mood and anxiety. In the glorious Surrey Hills they come to a place of beauty and see the horses in the fields, and they learn some life skills such as calmness and self-regulation with the help of the horses.
11 full-time and part-time employees work with about 60 volunteers, who are led by Abi Smart. Many say that their lives are enriched through their regular work at the sanctuary. The horses arrive, often in a very poor state, and patient observation of them leads to a detailed consideration of their needs. The care regime involves working with the horses at their pace, gently earning their trust. They are given extra supplements and reiki, as well as veterinary, podiatrist and chiropractic care. The fields are set up on a track system which enriches the horses’ lives. It brings them variety and exercise as they go to be fed along the tracks, where they are encouraged to forage, and they obtain water at the end of the track.
In 11 years, over 3,000 people have been helped by the sanctuary. Each year about 300 come and interact with the horses. They learn about horses, about their bodies, their needs and the different types of breed. They learn how to look after them, how to groom them, how to look for any worms they might have and whether treatment is required. Among the great work the volunteers do is the remarkable job of collecting all that the horses deposit in the fields. They don’t want the horses to get worms from eating grass that’s been touched by pooh. All is turned into manure.
The Mane Chance is therefore not just a horse sanctuary. It’s far more than that because of what it does to help children and adults learn calm and peace from gently working with the horses. The benefits of such mutual help are widely acknowledged by schoolteachers and those helping those with mental health difficulties. The Mane Chance may be unique in the work it does. It hopes it will continue to grow, because of the evident need for the benefits it brings into troubled lives. There is a waiting list and it is hoped that the site will be developed to provide the opportunity for more to be helped and with increased facilities. It would be so good if these developments come to pass.