A South Lakes riding centre has been renamed to reflect its efforts to transform people’s lives. Harness Change, at Cumbria Rural Academy CIC, based near Newby Bridge at the southern end of Windermere, offers a range of services in addition to standard riding lessons, including a dressage club, hacks across the surrounding fells and an after-school club which follows the British Horse Society’s Changing Lives syllabus.

The centre are also a ladies morning club and a boys’ club, aimed to boost diversity in what is often considered a ‘sport for girls and women’, and a pony club for youngsters who do not own their own horse, where they can take badges in topics such as eventing, dressage, farriering, farm animals and leadership.

Harness Change’s Zara Myers

“We focus on equine-facilitated learning, rather than just training people to ride horses and be competitive,” said Zara Myers, the chief executive of Harness Change. “Our journey of progression is internal and about mindfulness, rather than about external goals and achievements.

“The rebranding to Harness Change at Cumbria Rural Academy CIC reflects the focus we put on teaching life skills and how everything we do is about improving the happiness, mental health and physical health of both horses and their riders.”

Zara is taking the reins at the company, previously known as Bigland Hall Equine Group, having competed internationally at dressage and worked in management consultancy. From her business background Zara started Harness Change for team and leadership development. Managers and their teams can visit the stables and work with horses to discover their skill gaps and develop their leadership style.

“When you work with horses they reflect and mirror how you present yourself,” said Zara. “If you are the kind of person who is domineering with your team the horse will react accordingly with non-judgemental feedback. This approach helps individuals to understand and accept skills gaps swiftly and means we can quickly get to the intervention stage, where we help people with techniques to make changes. The individuals can then practice these techniques with the horses and gain immediate feedback.”

A similar approach is used in alternative education sessions held with pupils from more than 37 Cumbrian schools, helping students move into the workplace or from primary school to secondary school.

There are more than 30 horses based at the riding stables, including ponies, cobs for beginners and intermediate pupils, and bigger horses suitable for more experienced riders, including Andalusians and Lusitanos.

To find out more about Harness Change, click here.

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