Meet the team…

Deborah trained in Medicine at Newcastle University, qualifying as a doctor in 1989. Deborah has been employed Part-time in the NHS as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist for over 15 years, but has developed a portfolio career over the years, with specialist consultancy work, lecturing and expert witness work.

Deborah’s interest and training in the EAGALA approach to therapeutic work with children and families began in 2005. She completed her EAGALA accreditation and began to explore and test ideas for integrating her passion for horses into her work. She has visited equine therapy centres in Australia (2007) and brought back ideas to help young people in Bristol with substance misuse problems and offending behavior (2008).

Over the last 10 years, in Wiltshire and Bristol Children’s Mental Health Services Deborah has focussed on the development of treatment services for young people with Substance Misuse Disorders. In both services she has treated young people with multiple risks – complex mental health needs, psychiatric disorders co-existing with substance misuse problems, parental substance misuse, forensic/ offending behaviour and young women during pregnancy who are drug/alcohol dependent. Deborah has also worked with young parents who are substance misusing, with their infants and been involved in assessing parenting issues in the context of child protection proceedings.

Within Families Inc, Deborah’s focus and interests have shifted to the development of innovative services and approaches that improve social relationships. To this end she has revived her training and therapeutic skills with EAGALA (April 2014) and worked on the development of Spiritus Equis.

Clare has had a whole lifetime of experience with horses – from Pony Club through to eventing , point to pointing, race-riding under National Hunt rules and with Arab racehorses, training and breeding as well as teaching and instructing all ages.
Now, as a fully certified Eagala-trained equine specialist she feels privileged to be able to put her knowledge to good use with ‘Spiritus Equis’, helping people through the natural, therapeutic qualities of horses.

Lisa is a director at YouthInc – a community interest company whose aims are to offer a multi-disciplinary approach to mental health.  She qualified as a radiographer before embarking on a career in Health and Social Care which has included mental health rehabilitation, working with youth offenders and the homeless before settling into a 20 year career in substance misuse. Having strong project management skills and specialising in working with young people and adults with complex presentations.
She is a qualified trainer, has also developed peer mentoring and user consultation services.  A rider as a teenager and a lifelong love of horses, she has brought her two passions together and is certificated with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association.

Becks has grown up with horses and they have remained a passion for her. After leaving school she worked with horses full time for a couple of years. She then went on to get a degree in Sports Performance at Bath university.

Becks has her UKCC level 2 coaching certificates in riding and swimming.

Becks is trained in the EAGALA model as an Equine Specialist and is a great asset to Spiritus Equis using her talents to work therapeutically with people and horses

Becks spends her time coaching riders of varying ages and abilities, schooling horses for other people, teaching swimming, running fitness classes, training her horses for eventing and enthusiastically helping out with the running of Spiritus Equis.

Mark Smallman

Mark has spent most of his life being closely involved with horses, since his childhood they have been an obsession. Mark began his career working for the Jockey Club in London and traveling to race courses across the country. He then did a teacher training qualification and taught English. After a few years he was drawn back to horses, working hands on with his father in law, training National Hunt race horses. This led on to Mark training and breeding his own Arab race horses. During this time as well as riding out, Mark did most of the ground work with the young horses before they were ridden.

Mark is now combining his personal and equine skills for Spiritus Equis, to help people learn how to understand and communicate with horses using simple groundwork activities.

Mark is a talented musician, a rock guitarist and singer, and works as an artist producing stunning sculptures and oil, gouache and charcoal paintings and drawings.



The horse is a prey animal and will usually move away from or run from a threat. People may not run from threats, but may avoid or close down emotionally in the face of challenging situations. However, horses find safety and comfort in herds and look for a connection when under stress. They are experts in relationships and naturally seek a healthy balance between independence and the need to connect with others. This enables them to contribute enormously to therapeutic change. They represent a balance between freedom, power and control – the very essence of our own struggles as humans.