Pegasus horse therapy is helping Doncaster’s autistic children

A charity in Doncaster is giving autistic children the opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment – with the help of horses.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 12:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 8:25 am
Chelsea Booth, 14, pictured with Duchess. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-16-11-19-Pegasus-5

Lisa Marie Chapman, aged 40, founded Pegasus Equine Therapy in April 2019 with just two horses, and now she has six.

She said: “We want to create inclusion for children with autism. Children who are diagnosed have very little support in school and their families don’t know what to do.”

According to Lisa, horses are proven to be helpful in aiding children with autism.

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Michael and Kaysha, pictured with Rainbow. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-16-11-19-Pegasus-4

She said: “Horses are so receptive to children and they bond really easily.

“It helps to calm the kids down so that they can be totally themselves.”

Pegasus is based at Torne Valley Farm in Rossington and is open seven days a week.

Lisa said: “This was sparked by my nephew Alfie who is severely autistic.

Imogen Flude, three, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-16-11-19-Pegasus-2

“This is a haven for them to be themselves.

“We support them outside of the service – I’m always on the phone to parents.

“I’m here to make a difference. We go the extra mile, we go to their individual schools to hand out certificates in assemblies.

“If I have to work until 12 at night then I will do. I will do as much as I can for these kids.”

Founder Lisamarie Chapman, pictured with volunteers. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-16-11-19-Pegasus-3

Horse therapies can often be very expensive but Lisa takes an understanding approach.

“Autism doesn’t just affect rich people,” Lisa continued.

“We wouldn’t turn people away if they can’t afford it.

“It’s not about changing people – it's about teaching them that they were born different and to stand out.”

Lisamarie Chapman, pictured with her husband Christopher and children Hollie, 18, Denny, 15, Regan, 18 and Daisy, 11. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-16-11-19-Pegasus-1

One child that Pegasus has helped is 14-year-old, Chelsea Jo Booth, from Scawthorpe.

Her mother, Amanda Booth, said: “Chelsea is and always has been a high achiever in school but from year seven she started to struggle with her self esteem and confidence.

“She stopped dancing and started to self-harm - some of it was due to bullying.

“She started to have counseling from a few different organisations, things didn’t improve.

“It got to the breaking point when my daughter went missing and was found by her best friend by the train lines.”

The situation started to turn around when Chelsea started to attend Pegasus.

“After the first lesson I noticed a change in Chelsea. She opened up and spoke to Lisa Marie who felt she would be able to help not only Chelsea but us as a family,” Amanda continued.

“We are now at a point that I have my daughter back on the right path - Lisa Marie has a magical gift and is working hard with Chelsea.

“The difference in my daughter is unreal and I can’t recommend Pegasus Equine enough. I’d like to thank not only Lisa Marie but her whole family for the difference they’ve made to Chelsea and our family.”

Another child who has been helped by Lisa is Benjamin Eagle, aged seven, from Scawthorpe.

His mother Tracey Eagle said: “Before I found her and her family, I had been looking for somewhere to take my son for riding lessons for nearly a year without any success.

“Because as soon as you mention that he has autism they don't want to know.

“But with Lisa-Marie he is doing brilliantly, he is much calmer and in a much better mood.

“I've seen her work miracles with children of all ages and abilities regardless of whether they have a disability, if they are upset, scared or shy.

“I can't thank this woman and her family enough for everything they have done and continue to do for Ben and myself.

“She truly is one in a million and deserves all the praise and more that she gets.”