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Meet the former racehorse who is helping prisoners and young people



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  • A former racehorse with a penchant for Queen and Classic FM has been celebrated for his incredible work in helping young people and prisoners.

    Dreamisi and Matt Bannon were among the finalists in the new Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Community Interest Award. Their story was heard by guests at the RoR awards on Wednesday evening (31 January) as the industry celebrated the exceptional versatility of thoroughbreds.

    The pair work with north London-based charity Strength and Learning Through Horses. They visit prisons weekly and also work with young people who are struggling.

    “He really picks up on the energy of the people in the sessions and works with that; if they’re really anxious and angry, he stays away from them. If they’re really calm and gentle, he goes towards them,” said Matt.

    “That makes him a really good horse, he’s really good at picking his place – he’ll go wherever he feels appropriate until he feels that people have done what he needs for them to interact with him. It’s really special to have a horse that can do that.”

    The prisoners and young people do groundwork and sessions where Dreamisi is loose with people in an exercise area, to show how horses pick up on atmosphere and human interactions, and in turn, help people better understand themselves.

    Dreamisi can push boundaries, which Matt adds is part of what makes him so suited to this kind of work. When he was going through his retraining, they found that Classic FM playlists were a great way to help him settle in the stable and have also since discovered through his work with young people that he is a fan of Queen.

    He added: “In the all-male prison, they love the fact that this is a racehorse, that he’s got this power about him and he is big and strong, but he also needs you to keep him calm and support him.

    “Being empathetic, being kind, being gentle – these are all human skills that they’ll need to take outside with them and the horses give them a window into finding those parts of themselves.”

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