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" Together we can do great things” Mother Theresa

Tom Benson

Tom has worked with horses all his life, from making youngsters to retraining problem horses. He played and coached polo internationally, and has seen how powerful the bond of horse to human can be throughout his working life.

Tom stopped Polo to re focus his passion for learning about horses and horsemanship and how they can positively effect humans wellbeing. During this time he started working with children with Special Educational Needs and Anxiety. This work along with assisting at Athena Herd has cemented his thoughts of how horses can support people, and ignited a fire to do help as much as possible to advance the work of Equine Facilitated learning.


HPA polo association
Senior Member of ACCPH


Tom has a lifetime of working with horses full time including 25yrs of professional sports coaching and horse training alongside managing stables with up too 100 horses on site. He also manages the grounds of the estate he is based at, including both arable and pasture.

Tom has 7 years experience in the Equine Facilitated Learning world, specialising in helping Children and families within the SEN sector.

Most recently Tom has been supporting sessions with RBLi veterans at Athena Herd Foundation and working as a mentor supporting our online Certificate in Equine Facilitated Learning programmes.


Level 4 diploma in Equine Facilitated Learning
Licensed Rickter Scale Practitioner
Trained first aider
HPA Qualified Coach
Mentor with Athena Herd Foundation

Joanne Morton

Joanne is continually amazed at the great bond between humans and horses and how this can positively impact on our mental health and emotional wellbeing. In a world where young people are under tremendous stress and often struggle with anxiety, Joanne is committed to giving them a means to view themselves differently and to develop relationships that previously seemed impossible.

Joanne seeks to share the great pleasure and rewards that can be derived from working with horses on all levels.


Joanne has taught young people with learning difficulties, ASD and emotional and behaviour difficulties for over 25 years and has been an Instructor with RDA for over 30 years.

Along with her family have spent a lifetime riding producing young horse and ponies and competing at all levels.

As part of the Athena Herd Foundation team, she is now hosting training programmes in Northern Ireland as well as delivering Equine Facilitated Learning.

Qualifications and memberships:

Masters degree in education (specializing in SEN)                             

Level 4 Equine Facilitated Practitioner Diploma

UKCC Level 2 Equestrian coach

RDA Coach and coach developer

Fellow Member of ACCPH

accph fellow

Elizabeth Curry

Elizabeth is committed to helping others discover new ways of thinking about themselves and of interacting and connecting with other people.


As a parent to twelve children, including those with both physical and emotional disabilities including PTSD, Elizabeth understands first hand the challenges come with such a role. As well as parenting experience, she has taught music for over twenty-five years in both private and group settings, has been involved with horses since the age of ten, and has volunteered with PATH riding programs. Elizabeth is also a parenting coach, mentoring parents for the past ten years.

Qualifications and Memberships:

Registered Practitioner (Athena)

Masters degree in Education

Level 4 diploma in Equine Facilitated Learning

Fellow Member of ACCPH

Mentor with Athena Herd Foundation

accph fellow

Hayley Murfin

Hayley is committed to building platforms and environments for the success of team and individuals

Hayley has worked in the catering industry for over 30 years, with the majority being focused on workplace dinning across all corporate sectors.


Growing up in rural Lincolnshire but spending her adult life living in Surrey, working in London Hayley understands the importance of having a strong connection to nature and the benefits this brings individuals. Her equine interactions have fueled a passion for using somatic awareness in her work.


Member of the Accredited Practitioner Register

Level 4 Diploma in Equine Facilitated Learning

Mentor with Athena Herd Foundation

Mental Health First Aid

BA Hotel and Catering Management

Mentor with Institute of Hospitality


Level 2 Reiki

Wild Rites – The Blessing Mirror

Coaches Rising – The Power of Embodied Transformation

Member of the Strozzi Institute

Member of the Institute of Hospitality

Sally Herdman

It’s been said that ‘horses are mirrors to our soul’. In fostering a relationship with a horse, a person is brought face-to-face with the truth about him or herself

This self-awareness is key to understanding and solving problems.  In developing her own self awareness over the last 30 years, Sally learnt how non verbal communication between her and her horses helped unload much of her life´s baggage.  Sally used the lessons learned from the horses to ground herself and grow her own well-being.   She combines her knowledge of equine facilitated interactions  with her Master Neurol-Linguistic Programming (NLP)  expertise to help provide clients with a positive experience with the horses.  This can result in clients being empowered to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.  Together Sally and the horses can help you unlock your personal strengths in a shorter time than you might expect.


Sally has worked with After Adoption and Independent Fostering Networks for many years as well as her local RDA.  She has presented leadership and management courses for corporation and team building skills for young adults.  In addition she has spent several years working with empowering women post domestic abuse as well as the effects of PTSD and CPTSD.  As part of the Athena Herda Foundation team she now helps mentor others taking part in the certificate and diploma courses.


Member of the Accredited Practitioner Register

Level 4 Equine Facilitated Practitoner Diploma

ACCPH Senior Member

Master NLP Practitioner

Mental Health First Aid

Gill Leach

Life decided to take her – via the horses – onto a more holistic route and she has spent many years now, working with healing and animal communication and with holistic human therapies

Gill has been passionate about horses for as long as she can remember and entered “The School of Horses and Ponies” at a very early age. They have continued to teach her about herself, others, themselves and life until this present day. She has an immense respect and love for all these amazing animals can bring into our lives and awareness, and understands their desire to help an guide us through life and our challenges.

She also spent many years in the wholesale horticultural industry where she managed teams of people and interacted with many customers, always seeking the best ways of communicating and encouraging harmony and cooperation among people to achieve the best results.

Gill follows the guidance and wisdom of the horses and is now committed to supporting people to find their authentic selves, to raise their awareness of life, nature, and those around them so that an enhanced understanding of how our energies and emotions work can enable them to find a road to a more peaceful and content life. The Equine Facilitated Interactions plays a significant role in this.

Gill has been bringing some members of the Athena Community onto their Reiki path in the past year and also holding communication and awareness workshops at the Athena Herd.


Gill qualified as a riding instructor early in her life worked in riding establishments or freelance over the years, during which time her role included teaching those with learning difficulties, behavioural issues, physically challenged adults and supporting those with confidence issues on their riding and horsemanship journey.  



Reiki Master/Teacher

EFT Practitioner

Anima Healing Practitioner

Crystal Healing Practitioner

Mentor for Athena Herd Foundation

Equine Specific First Aid Certificate


The Healer Foundation

British Complementary Medicine Association

Gemma Williams

Her love for horses continues and she is passionate about sharing the  abundant benefits of being with horses with her Psychotherapy clients

Growing up, Gemma took any opportunity to be in the presence of horses and began riding as a teenager. As an Equine Facilitated Interaction Practitioner, Gemma combines her experience as an Educator and Psychotherapist with the therapeutic presence of horses to provide a unique and bespoke client experience.


Gemma has worked in various Educational settings for over 15 years, including Primary, Secondary, Special Needs and Alternative Provision schools, initially as a Teacher and currently as a Psychotherapeutic Counsellor. Gemma also works for a national Mental Health Charity as a Counsellor as well as with young people and adults in her private Psychotherapy practice. This includes Equine Facilitated sessions and talking therapy sessions.

Qualifications and memberships:

BSc (Hons) Biology

PGCE Secondary Education

Postgraduate Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling

Level 4 Diploma in Equine Facilitated Interactions

Member of the Accredited Practitioner Register

BACP Individual member

ACCPH Senior member

Michaela Flury

Michaela combined her passion for horses and counselling psychotherapy to enable her to offer EFP and help others discover the positive benefits of learning about themselves through their experiences with the herd. 

Michaela has owned and worked with horses for over 40 years.  

In her teens Michaela volunteered to work with horses, supporting RDA clients within a riding school setting. It was through volunteering at this establishment that Michaela first became aware of the special connection between horse and rider, engaging with the concept of horses as helpers.  Horses are emotionally intelligent sentient beings, that absorb others’ feelings, and are therefore particularly adept at facilitating therapeutic learning for clients.  


In 2012 Michaela began to train as an Integrative Counsellor and for the past nine years has worked within a Charity as a Support Worker and Therapist, working with young people and adult survivors of trauma and abuse. 

Michaela has her own private practice in Kent offering EFP, generic Counselling and CBT.  


MBACP Integrative Counsellor 

Level 4 Equine Facilitated Practitioner Diploma

Mentor with Athena Herd Foundation

NLP Practitioner

Level 2 Certificate Awareness of Mental Health Problems


Jane Gilbey

Jane has worked as a nanny in her early career Primary and Junior school aged children and then with horses as a carriage driving yard manager. She then spent nine years working within a Veterinary Practice specialising in small and large animals where she eventually became branch manager. She has always been drawn to a natural and holistic approach to health and well-being and has several qualifications in holistic modalities for both people and animals.

Since her late teens she has always had a connection with horses and a bit of a passion for Arabian’s. Her horses have been her greatest teachers and guided her in learning about horsemanship and most importantly about herself. Recognising how they can positively effect humans well-being, support people in their personal growth and teach us so much, it was a natural progression to move into the world of Equine Facilitated Learning.


Jane has been supporting sessions with RBLi veterans at Athena Herd Foundation and working as a mentor to our Certificate in Equine Facilitated Learning programmes.

Most recently she has been facilitating school visits to her farm and visits for vulnerable adults where the horses have played a key role with Equine Facilitated Interactions. She also sees private clients where she combines all of her services in a holistic approach to help people over come life’s challenges.

 Qualifications and Memberships:

Member of the Accredited Practitioner Register
Level 4 diploma in Equine Facilitated Learning
Mentor with Athena Herd Foundation
Bach Flower Human and Animal Practitioner, Registered
Advanced Practitioner with the BFVEA
Diploma Equine Touch Practitioner Level
Flower and Vibrational Essence Producer BARFEP
Senior Member of ACCPH


Reiki Master for Animals
Certificates in Mindfulness and Meditation, Crystal Healing for Animals,
Sound Therapy, Pranic Healing and Animal Behaviour.

Therese Cousins

Therese has grown up with horses since a young age, and has discovered both the physical and mental benefits of being in their presence. 

She qualified as a riding instructor and confidence coach, and has worked both in the UK and Internationally. She now runs the family farm, livery yard, event and education centre. 

Her passion lies with being outside in Nature, working with the horses and teaching yoga and well-being to help support others from children to the elderly. 

Focusing on delivering Equine Facilitated Learning, Therese has been supporting sessions with RBLi veterans and vulnerable adult groups at Athena Herd Foundation and is also working as a mentor supporting the on-site Certificate and Online Level 4 Diploma in Equine Facilitated Learning programmes.


Member of the Accredited Practitioner Register
Level 4 diploma in Equine Facilitated Learning
Yoga Instructor
BHSAI Riding Instructor 

Confidence Coach 

BSc in Sport
Mentor with Athena Herd Foundation

Gilli Coston

Gilli is managing director of the Horsepower Partnership, a business focussed on supporting the learning & development of Senior Executives, and in particular Women, and to do so in an innovative and inspiring way.  Having Trained in NLP and in Equine Facilitated Leadership & Learning in 2020 she left her 30 years of corporate leadership and followed her dream.

From her background of 30 years experience in Corporate Leadership, Business Growth and High Performance Development in the Telecoms and IoT (Internet of Things) sector, Gilli formed Horsepower in 2020. Gilli is focused on transformative, immersive and fun learning experiences for businesses, charities and communities. Gilli special skills rely on her ability for uncovering, developing and enhancing excellence and goodness for sustainable and lasting growth in people and animals.

The Horsepower Partnership is ‘Growing to Give’ – [every (paying) client enables another human, animal or environmental element to have free access to positive change – creating and maintaining a circular economy]. The team and herd are based in a 22 acre ancient woodland in the heart of the Shropshire’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as well as online and on client sites. Horsepower is a registered training centre for Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Athena Herd Foundation and the Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists (ACCPH).

Qualifications and Experience

Level 4 Diploma Equine Facilitated Practitioner Learning

Coaching, and NLP

New Code NLP Training


Mental Health First Aider (MHFA England)

Board Advisor for HERA – a women’s charity for survivors of modern day slavery and exploitation).

Gilli is a Fellow Member of ACCPH.

accph fellow 

The Athena Herd Foundation team is made up of independent consultants. Each member brings a wealth of experience in their particular field of expertise. Please note that the members of the Athena Herd Foundation Team are not employed by the Athena Herd Foundation CIC.