Glenview Farm Equine Learning Centre provides a unique blend of pony parties, play dates and riding lessons for adults and children, complemented by specialist therapeutic horse riding, in the picturesque countryside between Slemish mountain and the coastal village of Glenarm.
Developed and run by Jane Magee, a well-known show rider who has competed at National level since she was a child with three decades of experience, it has been operating since Jane inherited the farm in 2017. She developed the idea after she saw Equine Assisted Learning in practice during a visit to Australia and decided to undertake specific training.
“Equine assisted learning is a unique service, which harnesses the sensitive and reactive nature of the horse to promote social and emotional growth,” she explained.
“This is especially effective with those who have become disengaged with, or disinterested in, traditional ‘talk based’ support.”
Jane’s passion isn’t just for horses, but partnering with them to help young people who struggle with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. The centre has a unique sensory riding trail, allowing autistic young people to experience the location on horseback while playing sensory games, to create an autism friendly experience.
“I think families are so thankful there’s somewhere a sibling and another sibling with additional needs can go – parents can even take part themselves”
Visitors can also take advantage of a new all year round family session experience, with two-hour sessions available for families of up to four to groom, ride, play games and go on trail rides with the horses.
The centre is operational all year round and also offers an alternative children’s party experience. Pony parties at Glenview Farm can be booked for special occasions, such as birthdays, and can cater for six to 12 attendees.
“They can be anything from an hour to two hours and then they can do grooming, musical statues with the ponies, leading them, riding them,” she said.
“There’s dressing up depending on the age so there’ll be a theme like princess or cowboy.
“If there’s an evening session you can expect fairy lights and glow sticks and we can provide a unicorn hunt, it’s just tailor made to the age of the children and according to how long they want it to last.”
Glenview Farm operates as a social enterprise. They have recently developed self-catering accommodation for up to three in a converted attic and ‘as part of the social enterprise we then donate a free booking to a family who wouldn’t necessarily avail of a holiday,” she said.
“We also provide free riding sessions for children from disadvantaged areas.”
In addition to Jane, there are two staff and 20 volunteers, who Jane said, have helped bring the atmosphere to Glenview Farm, which has been in the family for over 120 years and situated just half a mile away from where Jane grew up.
“People keep talking about how they’re made to feel like part of the family,” she said. “I believe it’s the kindness and respect that we show our clients – we genuinely care about them having a great experience and they keep returning, as opposed to them coming and doing half an hour and then we never see them again.”
They have also introduced their own version of the Saddle Club, courses for children (up to 9 per group) called Pony Tails for the juniors and Making Strides for young people.
Jane is an accredited Level 6 Life and Workplace coach and holds a certificate in Equine Welfare Management, as well as being a qualified first aider. Find out more about Glenview at glenviewfarm.org.uk