This research first aims to look at the range of Equine Assisted Services currently available along with practitioner perspectives of the benefits and challenges of working in the field. Following on from this, the project aims to look more specifically at the benefits of incorporating horses into programmes for mental health and wellbeing and explore some of the mechanisms which may be at play.
My project is funded by a DAERA studentship.
What is your ideal Research outcome?
This project will help gain a better understanding of the situation ‘in the field’. It will also add to the evidence base of why and how horses can help people. It is hoped that this information will be used to inform government departments and policy makers when planning provision and support for the sector.
Dr Deborah Wells
Why did you choose this PhD and why at Queen's?
I have a lifelong love of horses and a strong interest in Animal Welfare and the Human-Animal bond. I completed an MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Queens in 2020 and was really impressed by the quality and range of teaching and expertise on offer. This led me to explore possible PhD opportunities at Queens and I was very happy to be offered a place here.
I am originally from Dublin but have been living in Northern Ireland for many years. I gained am BSc in Equine Science at University of Wales Aberystwyth in 1998 before completing a Masters in Animal Science in Aberdeen in 1999. Following a break from academia to work in industry, I completed an MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare in 2020 at Queens University, Belfast.
How have you been supported at Queen's?
My first year at PhD level at Queens has been very supportive in terms of training, networking, and opportunities to get involved in postgraduate activities. The quality of teaching and the resources available to assist PhD researchers with independent study is excellent. The Animal Behaviour Centre at Queens meet up regularly to discuss projects and provides a space to explore ideas and new developments in the field.
In what ways have you developed at Queen's?
Queens has provided me with opportunities to develop my presentation and research skills, along with the confidence to problem solve and explore new ideas.
Can you describe the postgraduate community in the School and at Queen's?
The postgraduate community is a close knit, friendly group of people with wide ranging skills and expertise, providing lots of opportunities for discussion, support and generating new ideas.
Where do you hope your PhD will lead?
On completion of the PhD, I would like to remain in academia / education either through further research or providing educational or support services to the Equine Assisted Services sector.
Connect with Rita on her 'Want To Learn About Horses' FaceBook page