An equine therapy programme transforming the lives of youngsters at charity HorseWorld is among those included in the new Human Equine Interaction Register. The register recognises all the UK organisations providing an excellent standard of support for people through interaction with horses and ponies.

HorseWorld Discovery was formed In 2007 and serves young people faced with challenges due to their social, emotional, mental health and learning needs and helps them to rebuild lives, which may have been affected by trauma or neglect, through working with gentle rescued HorseWorld horses.

Every year the programme connects around 200 children and young people, aged five to 25, who are struggling in mainstream education, with carefully selected and rehabilitated rescue horses. The charity says bringing together the rescued equines with young people who have their own struggles, in practical outdoor tasks has a positive outcome on human and equine.

“Working alongside rescued horses in an outdoor environment gives young people an opportunity to excel in a way they haven’t been able to do so in a structured school setting,” said a charity spokesman. “Through individually tailored activities, students develop their confidence, communication skills and self-esteem. The horses provide a unique learning tool based on trust, understanding and kindness that promotes personal development and supports emotional growth.”

Giving hope

Students say the course has transformed their lives, giving them confidence to talk to each others and make plans for their future.

“I suddenly found myself being able to communicate with people,” said one. “I found joy in things again and, most importantly, I found I suddenly had a feeling of hope for the future.”

Many Discovery students are able to re-enter mainstream education, take exams, and go on to achieve vocational qualifications and secure full-time employment.

One Senior Facilitator, Sarah Payton, has been participating in the program for 12 years.

“Every Discovery course is unique because we tailor our activities to the needs of the individual young people who are referred to us,” she said. “That means that no day at Discovery is ever the same.

“Central to the programme, are the relationships built between the young people and our wonderful horses, our job is to facilitate the building of those trusting relationships through carefully designed activities. Some of our rescued horses have been through a lot in their early life and many of the young people who come to Discovery identify with them and see parallels with their own challenges.

“I never tire of seeing these incredible bonds develop and seeing how students the grow in self-confidence and have a real sense of achievement and increased joy by the end of the six-week course.”

HorseWorld Chief Executive Petra Ingram added: “It is testament to the amazing work of our Discovery team over the past 14 years that we have been accepted onto this new register.

“We know that Discovery is nothing less than transformational for our students, but to have this validated and be officially recognised as providing an excellent standard of support through interactions with our rescued equines is fantastic. Joining the register is a springboard from which we can continue to develop the programme for the young people we support, grow our expertise, secure future funding and ensure our wonderful rescued equines continue to thrive in their roles.”

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