Meet the Discovery Team

The Discovery Course programme relies on our 11 specially trained horses - and the dedicated team of humans who run the scheme.


Sharon Howell - Discovery Course Leader

Sharon has worked with horses her whole life and it has always been her passion. She studied at Hartpury College and began her career at Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled. She then worked at various other yards, before moving on to buying, training and selling young horses of her own.

After a year travelling the world she worked for a while at HorseWorld's Visitor Centre then started her own equestrian centre which is where she developed her skills for teaching and working with young people.

Sharon has previously taught equine studies at City of Bristol College and Filton College. After starting her own family she returned to HorseWorld in 2009 and developed the Discovery Programme, which she continues to lead to this day.


Mich Hardingham -Discovery Facilitator

Mich has worked with children and young people aged between 3 and 19 with special needs for 20 years, in various settings, including mainstream schools and alternative provision. She also worked for Bristol City Council as part of the Behaviour Improvement Team, supporting children, young people and families in crisis.

Horses have been part of her family for many years and she has long been aware of the powerful, positive effect that horses have on people, particularly with regard to vulnerable children and young people. Often whilst supporting families in crisis she made arrangements for them to come together with her family horse Bounty.

She was amazed to see such dramatic changes in the student’s behaviour, confidence and self- esteem and was inspired to do more of this work. In 2011, Mich began to volunteer at Discovery, combining her love of horses with her love of children and young people.

She was offered a job in 2012. "Working at Discovery has confirmed to me that power and positive impact that horses can have and I am proud to part of the Discovery,” says Mich, ‘”We have an amazing team and every one brings their own unique experience and special qualities to the work that we do. This coupled with our very sensitive, kind, patient and gentle, rescue horses are at the core of what makes Discovery so successful.”


Sarah Payton – Discovery Facilitator

Sarah is a qualified Primary school teacher. Whilst attending several school residential weeks at a farm, she re-kindled her childhood love of animals, nature and the outdoors.

More importantly, she noticed the hugely positive impact that caring for animals and being outside had on children who struggled in the classroom. Sarah went on to become an education researcher and spotted a HorseWorld advert for volunteers for the Discovery project.

She had grown up riding and helping to look after horses at local stables, so Discovery brought together her passions: alternative education, horses and the outdoors/nature.

Sarah began volunteering for Discovery in 2010 and - after undertaking an Equine Assisted Learning internship in the US in 2013 - she joined the Discovery team as a Facilitator in May 2014.


Lauren Massey – Discovery Assistant

Lauren first came to Horseworld on work experience in 2013 and helped to care for the rescued horses, working alongside the welfare team both in the yard and out in the fields, learning about what horses need to keep them healthy and happy.

In her spare time Lauren also enjoyed helping out at a friend’s farm, particularly enjoying springtime and assisting with the new lambs. The skills gained during this period definitely came in handy when Lauren later became a student at Discovery. Lauren worked hard during her time there to attain City and Guilds working skills for life.

After that, she took up apprenticeship role at HorseWorld back in the welfare yard, where she was able to build on and expand her knowledge of working with and caring for horses. By the end of her apprenticeship year she had completed a level 2 Diploma in Horse care and began working as part of the Discovery team in 2016.

Lauren works at Discovery on weekdays and alternate weekends with the Welfare team. She has a natural ability to connect with both the horses and students at Discovery, which gives her just the skills needed to work alongside the rest of the Discovery team and support a variety of young people.