ACTOR Martin Clunes is to be seen on TV showing the differences horses can make for young people with disabilities or learning difficulties.
The West Dorset star visited the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy at Bransgore to make a documentary for satellite TV.
Martin Clunes, 55, lives with his family on a farm near the Dorset village of Beaminster, and owns heavy horses. He became president of the British Horse Society in 2011.
Martin Clunes: Riding Therapy was made by Bournemouth company LoveLove Films and will be broadcast on Horse & Country TV on Tuesday, March 28.
The Dorset-based actor, best known for his roles in Doc Martin and Men Behaving Badly, is also a horseman and president of the British Horse Society.
The programme follows a group of students at the centre, where a team of staff are specially trained in working with young people who have complex and often debilitating conditions such as Down's Syndrome, Asperger’s and Autism.
It shows how horse therapy can help them develop skills such as communicating, travelling independently, managing time and money, and understanding numeracy and literacy for everyday life.
One student featured is Daisy, who has autism and Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects the body’s ability to interpret the right amount of food consumption. This can lead sufferers to experience permanent hunger, as well as behavioural problems, learning difficulties and weight gain.
Daisy tells the actor that before enrolling: “I wasn’t myself, I felt trapped in a body of the demon of my syndrome.”
Georgina Hurcombe, managing director of LoveLove Films, said: “We were struck by Martin’s passion and sincerity for the welfare and personal development of the young students involved in the documentary. We are extremely pleased to have him with us throughout our journey.”
Before filming began, the company worked with the actor and the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy to deliver a workshop with the students. The team said they were keen to gain a deeper understanding of the students’ lives and were heartened by the stories they shared.
Martin Clunes: Riding Therapy is on Horse & Country TV, Sky Channel 253 on Tuesday March 28, 9pm.