The story of how children with special needs can find confidence through being with racehorses has been told by its founder, Helen Yeadon.

Mrs Yeadon, the daughter of John Robinson, a former farm manager at Bowood, opened Greatwood race horse rescue centre near Marlborough with her husband Michael ten years ago.

She has now written a book about how children with all sorts of special needs and social problems benefit from being with the horses.

The title of the paperback When Sophie Met Darcy Day is taken from a real-life case of a girl who was unable to speak until her parents begged Greatwood to let her work with its horses.

After spending one summer with former race horse Darcy Day, Sophie was given the confidence to talk.

Mrs Yeadon, 55, recalls: “Sophie had withdrawn into herself.

“She was at that difficult 13-14 years age, lacked confidence and didn’t talk to anybody.”

Sophie, an elective mute who had the power of speech but whose ability to talk was somehow locked up, spent the summer with the Darcy in Devon where Greatwood was founded in 1990.

“To start, there had been just a glimmer of interest from Sophie but then she started speaking,” said Mrs Yeadon.

“By the time she left, she was not only speaking but also chatting to her friends on a mobile phone.

Greatwood was moved from Great Torrington to a former dairy farm at Clench Common near Marlborough in 2001.

Five years later the Horse Power scheme was launched which uses the ex race horses as part of a structured programme of multi-sensory activities specially designed for children with a range of special needs.

The needs include emotional and behavioural difficulties and autistic spectrum disorders.

Special schools from Devizes, Calne, and Chippenham, together with pupils from special needs from a number of mainstream schools in the area, send children to Greatwood.

The charity houses 36 former race horses and, over the years, has rescued, rehabilitated and re-homed hundreds of horses.

When Sophie Met Darcy Day, by Mrs Yeadon and professional co-writer Jill Paul, is published by Harper Collins and costs £6.99 from local bookshops or from Internet book suppliers.