Who We Are

The founder of Olivia's Special Horses is Emma Donoghue. Emma has worked within the equine industry for over 20 years and has developed an extensive knowledge within her field.
Emma's eldest daughter Olivia was born with severe physical and cognitive disabilities.

Having a mother working with horses so closely meant that Olivia was often exposed to Emma's working environment. Although Olivia had very limited communication and mobility one thing that was very obvious was that she loved being outdoors and spending time with the horses.


Emma noticed the horses behaviour changed dramatically when Olivia was around. The horses were calmer and would often rest their heads on Olivia's lap so that she could stroke them. With Emma's help, Olivia was able to lie down on the horses and enjoy a new freedom of movement.

The special connection that Emma identified between Olivia and the horses inspired her to train as a Therapeutic riding coach.  By furthering her knowledge and skills, she was able to provide Olivia with an activity that eased many of her symptoms in a fun and relaxing way. 
Sadly Olivia passed away in 2014 aged 11.

Despite Olivia's passing, Emma was determined to share what she had learnt from her daughter with others, so she set up Olivia's Special Horses in her memory. 

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  • Deborah King

Deborah has many years of commercial experience in both the corporate and SME worlds, she has held board and advisory level positions on a number start-ups and is currently involved in the running of one of Irelands leading technology development companies.

Deborah holds the position of Operations Manager with Olivia’s Special Horses and is instrumental in the day to day running of the charity, her experience and expertise ensures the highest standards are reached and goals of the organisation and are met.


  • Victoria Lacey

Victoria has a wealth of commercial experience in the corporate environment. She has held Management and Supervisory level positions in numerous Global Telecoms and Utilities providers in the international markets with proven success.

Victoria is the mother of four children. Her young son has been diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. This gives Victoria additional perspective to the needs and requirements of the beneficiaries of Olivia’s Special Horses services.Victoria holds the position of Director and Secretary with Olivia’s Special Horses and her remit is pivotal in the planning and execution of the roadmap and direction of the charity.