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Festina Lente Logo

Festina Lente Mission Statement

The mission of Festina Lente is to provide a range of integrated training, occupational, learning and employment opportunities to people with disabilities. These services are provided through equestrianism, horticulture and community-based activities with an emphasis on choice, personal development and progression.

History of Festina Lente

Festina Lente Foundation was set up in 1988 to provide equestrian vocational training for young people with an intellectual disability. Originally called SETC (Specialised Equestrian Training Centre), it was located then in the Spruce Lodge Riding School, Kilternan. In 1995, the organisation moved to the gardens and grounds of Old Connaught House on Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, Co Wicklow with the assistance of EU Horizon funds. There are three key areas within Festina Lente:

  • Equestrian Centre
  • Walled Garden
  • Learning and Therapeutic Services for adults with an intellectual disability or dual diagnosis

Festina Lente is a non-profit organisation with charity status and employs approximately 55 staff members, works with over 30 volunteers and also works with various international universities in accommodating internship programmes.

Festina Lente receives its core funding from

  • Pobal, Dept. of Social Protection
  • Solas, Dept. of Education and Skills
  • HSE, Dept. of Health and Children

Current Description of Programme (Equestrian)

Festina Lente Equestrian Centre provides a wide range of equine based programmes to young people, teenagers and adults, all of whom have specific learning styles and abilities. In total, there are approximately 250 people each week accessing any one or more of the following programmes:

  • Vocational Equestrian Training

    3 year accredited programme for young people with disabilities aiming at accessing employment in the equestrian industry or further training

  • Equestrian employment

    Supported by Pobal, 6 adults with disabilities are employed in the Equestrian Centre

  • Supported Helper Programme

    Young children and teenagers helping in the Equestrian Centre with additional supports. Staffing ratio 1:1 or 1:2

  • Equine Assisted Learning

    Programme to support emotional, cognitive and/or behavioural changes

  • Educational Helper Programme

    Compulsory programme for all children /young people who wish to help out in the Equestrian Centre

  • Equine Facilitated Educational Programme

    Pobal and privately funding programme for young children as part of their school timetable. Involves one morning every week working with two staff – 3 children. Emphasis is on developing social and emotional competencies. Children must attend schools designated disadvantage

  • Therapeutic Riding

    For the development of physical, psychological and /or psychosocial areas (approximately 70 riders each week)

  • Term Riding

    Mainstream riding

  • Pony Camps

    Mainstream camps but also sponsored camps for young children from socio economically disadvantaged areas

  • Individually tailored equine learning programmes

    Shaped by needs of the individual or groups

In addition to the above equine facilitated programmes, Festina Lente provides two nationally accredited programmes:

  1. Therapeutic Coaching Training Programme

    18 day training programme delivered over 12 months with on-going assignments and assessments. This programme equips learners with the skills and knowledge required to enable them to work as a Therapeutic Riding Coach and is accredited by FETAC at a Level 6 – equivalent to first year university level. It is also accredited by the Institute for Animal Care Education (IACE). It is the only Irish provider of accredited Therapeutic Coaching Training: Numbers are restricted to 12 learners on each course. Modules include

    1. Human and Equine Learning
    2. Understanding Disability
    3. An appreciation of Therapeutic Riding and its impact
    4. Designing, delivering and evaluating Therapeutic Riding Sessions
  2. Equine Facilitated Assisted Learning Programme

    18 day training programme delivered over 10 months with on-going assignments and assessments. This programme equips learners with the skills and knowledge required to enable them to work as an Equine Assisted Learning facilitator and is accredited by FETAC at a Level 6 Special Purpose Award ‘Life and Workplace Coaching’. Modules include

    1. 6N2925 Professional Coaching Practice and Ethics
    2. 6 15 6N2926 Developing Emotional Intelligence
    3. 6 15 3 6N3087 Coaching Models of Practice
    4. Human and Equine Learning


Festina Lente staff engages in a number of research studies – typically undertaken in preparation for international conference but also as part of a staff members furhter study plan.

Horse Welfare

The equines for which Festina Lente is responsible make all the above programmes possible, together with the staff, volunteers and funders. Over the years, Festina Lente have continuously embarked on initiatives to improve the welfare – both physically and psychologically – of the equines for whom we are responsible, for example, the introduction of bitless bridles (Micklem Multipurpose), barefoot programme, continuous feeding, enhanced privacy for horses when stabled amongst others. A core value of Festina Lente is the need to achieve a balance between people’s needs, expectations and choices of equine based programmes and the equines needs. In such an environment, this is a very big challenge both in terms of economics and human resource management. Festina Lente strives to implement the ISES principles in all its interactions with equines.


These are the six partners in the project. Click on the flag to see that country's site in a new window.