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Horses and Human Health: "A journey to see horses as healers"

Healing Horses Jenny SeagraveDaisy was found wandering the streets of Chessington, in Surrey. Gwen and Phyllis were both abandoned while pregnant on nearby Send Common. Ocean is frightened of women. Ernie had bitten a man’s face and was full of anger. ''I shouldn’t have a favourite,’’ says actress Jenny Seagrove, pointing out some of the 24 horses grazing in the shelter of the surrounding Surrey Hills. ''But, ahh, Grimbo,’’ she says, gently stroking a skewbald miniature Shetland with an adorable quiff, ''you are my main man.’’
Grimbo, rescued from a dealer’s yard, is far too cool to acknowledge such fawning – even if it is by Seagrove, 57, one of Britain’s best-loved actresses, who made her name in Local Hero, but is perhaps more familiar from her long-standing role in the television series Judge John Deed. Grimbo stands peaceably, as do the other horses, treating Seagrove as an equal part of the herd at the Mane Chance Sanctuary, outside Guildford.
Seagrove set up this centre on borrowed farmland four years ago – with help from philanthropist Simrin Choudhrie – to rescue abandoned horses, but quickly realised that the animals could develop a reciprocal role as what she calls a ''healing herd’’.
''The sanctuary came about in desperate circumstances in 2011 when a friend rang to say she couldn’t afford to feed her large collection of animals, many of which she had rescued,’’ says Seagrove.
''It was one of those life-changing moments when you find a real purpose. Setting up a charity – a massive adventure.
''I called a friend who found Monkshatch Garden Farm, where the owner let us rent the 47 acres we needed. A year later, we were offered it for sale.’’ She agrees it was a big decision. ''I had to sell my flat in London and ask Simrin, who has been amazing, to chip in.’’ Her partner, theatre impresario Bill Kenwright, has been hugely supportive.