The One Equine Trust is a charity at law which consists of a small group of committed self funded individuals who have come together over the past two years to increase awareness of the potential of Equine Assisted Therapy In NI.
“Everyone in Northern Ireland who could benefit from interaction with horses has access to affordable, accredited equine assisted therapy and learning services”
“Northern Ireland will be known as a region of excellence, recognised internationally, for the practice of equine assisted therapies, the training of therapists, and advancing research in this expanding international field of study.”
Our Working Group
(l-r): Hazel Winning, Julie Frazer, Molly McCluskey, Louise Skelly and Richard Moore with Dora the mare mark launch of the One Equine Trust.
Working Group Members
Richard retired from a career in the meat industry in 2016 having been managing director of two major NI companies. He also chaired two trade bodies, the NI Meat Exporters Association and the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association. From an amateur interest in horses and a meeting with Temple Grandin, the prominent autism spokesperson, Richard developed a curiosity about equine-assisted therapy and learning (EAT&L). He developed an interest in horse-human relationships and volunteers at a local RDA group. Richard now commits time, energy and money to support the development of EAT&L locally, and believes that NI is well placed to become a centre of excellence in these disciplines. He is currently on the boards of NOW Group, a social enterprise supporting people with learning difficulties and autism, and Re-Gen Waste Ltd, a local waste management and recycling company. Both organisations have been very supportive of the fledgling initiatives in EAT&L
Louise Skelly has 40 years public sector experience, beginning her career in 1980 as a Management Trainee with Greater Glasgow Health Board before returning to Northern Ireland in 1982. Since then she held several senior management positions managing community care, acute hospital, and regional services. For ten years she headed up the operations of the Patient and Client Council advocating on behalf of patients, service users, carers, and communities in Northern Ireland. Louise is also a Lay Magistrate for the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service. Supported by her family she farms in County Down, producing sheep, Irish Draught, and Irish Sport Horses. She has an active interest in theology and everything to do with the countryside.
Louise’s experiences have given her an insight into the amazing outcomes for people from conventional health and social care services. She is also aware of the limitations of these services and that they do not work for everyone.
Louise is also concerned about the loss of potential among many young people who do not have the best opportunities in life. Coupled with her lifelong experience of working with animals (including horses), Louise believes that the goal of achieving optimal wellbeing must be underpinned by the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and the environment. Therefore in 2019 Louise became actively involved in supporting the development of equine assisted therapy and learning in Northern Ireland.
Julie has a lifelong association with horses. She worked in racing yards in England & USA, and taught children to ride in her early career.
Julie has been volunteering with Riding for the Disabled since 1993. She qualified as an RDA Coach in 1997, was appointed County Chairman for Co Antrim in 2010, and subsequently elected as Regional Chairman in 2015.
Her long association with RDA in Northern Ireland has led her to believe not only in the many benefits gained by participants and volunteers in all types of Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning but also in the need for some sort of co-ordinating body to advocate for the sector at the highest level and help facilitate the provision of these services to as many potential beneficiaries as possible.
As a volunteer-led charity, the RDA cannot hope to meet the level of need that exists with their existing facilities and teams. An incentive to expand provision is badly needed. Julie hopes that the formation of One Equine Trust will facilitate partnerships with other interested parties and encourage best practice by providing access to training, research and support.
After qualifying as an Occupational Therapist in Northern Ireland, Hazel worked in a range of clinical roles across different areas of practice including acute, community, adult services, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and paediatrics within uni-professional, multi-professional and integrated teams before moving into management and leadership positions.
As Department of Health Lead Allied Health Professions Officer, Hazel was the most senior advisor in Northern Ireland Government on AHP matters across the 13 AHP professions-Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Radiography diagnostic and therapeutic, Podiatry, Dietitians, Art Drama and Music Therapy and recently includes Paramedics. She provided professional advice and support to Assembly Ministers and senior officials across Health and Social Care services on AHP Policy, Education and Practice.
Hazel is a great supporter of all AHP Professional Bodies and has also been involved with her own professional body in different roles at regional and national levels. In 2019 Hazel was awarded a Fellowship Award which is the highest honour that the Royal College of Occupational Therapy can bestow on its members in recognition of the outstanding contribution they have made to the occupational therapy profession during their career.
Before leaving her post at DoH, Hazel was involved in securing funding which led to the development of a pilot AHP Hippotherapy course in Northern Ireland. This course is currently ongoing through Ulster University.
Molly studied Law, completing a Commercial Law Masters at Bristol University and was called to the Bar in 2005. Molly qualified as a mediator and on returning to Belfast she completed a study on the future of mediation within the Northern Irish legal system. It was during this time that she first recognised the possibilities of alternative justice procedures and in particular different pathways for young people caught in the judicial system.
Horses have been a lifelong hobby for Molly and the time she spent in Baltimore after completing her A-levels inspired an idea for an equine centre that combined excellence in welfare and instruction with education and empowerment for young people. She completed a diploma in the racing and breeding industry whilst studying Law and focused on this passion when she became Assistant Manager at Down Royal Racecourse. Her ten years at Down Royal offered Molly an invaluable insight to the equine industry in Northern Ireland and beyond and reaffirmed to her that working with horses instils skills and opportunities for people who may struggle in traditional educational pathways. Molly was also very aware of the pressure on those in the racing industry and the impact it could have on both their physical and mental well-being.
Molly has been working on a project to create a Centre of Excellence, education and empowerment at Giant’s Park in North Belfast and it was through this project that she came to be involved with One Equine. Molly is passionate about using the horse as a facilitator to improve the lives of people in Northern Ireland.