11/05/2010 High Wycombe School Pupils Take Part in Equine Course at The Horse Trust

Four pupils from Woodland Short Stay School in High Wycombe are taking part in a six-week course at The Horse Trust to build their confidence and self-esteem.

The course, which is run by Horsewyse CIC¹, aims to improve the children's confidence and communication skills, as well as helping them learn about their own behaviour. Sarah McGowan, a Senior Teacher at Woodland Short Stay School, said the course is having a positive impact on the children.

"The children responded well to the first sessions and are already looking forward to the next session, said Mrs McGowan. "The course is helping to build their confidence by encouraging pupils to have a positive attitude towards approaching new challenges. It is also helping them think about their own behaviour, by looking at the behaviour of the horses."

The Woodlands pupils, aged between 10 and 11, have already taken part in two sessions at The Horse Trust. Each session is led by Neil Smith, the Equine Specialist at Horsewyse.

In the first session, the pupils walked around one of the fields at the sanctuary observing and analysing the behaviour of the horses. In the second session, which took place on 10 May, the children were each allocated an individual horse that they will work with for the remaining sessions. Over the next four weeks the children will learn to look after their horse, for example, learning to lead, groom, pick feet and catch the horse in the field.

Dr Karen Smith, Director of Horsewyse, said The Horse Trust's Home of Rest for Horses in Speen, Buckinghamshire, is the ideal venue for the course as it looks after horses from a variety of backgrounds, including welfare cases.

"The Horse Trust is a great place to run the course as it has a wide variety of horses from different backgrounds and of different sizes, which is great for working with children," said Dr Smith. "Children are often particularly interested in horses that have been rescued, as they may have had bad experiences themselves, like being bullied. The shared experience helps them relate to the horse and gives them a sense of achievement when they see an improvement in the horse's behaviour."

"We're delighted to host the Horsewyse training course at the Home of Rest," said Susan Lewis, Marketing Manager at The Horse Trust. "It was amazing to see the impact that working with the horses can make to the children. At the start of the first session, one of the children was terrified of horses, but by the end was giving them a cuddle and saying that she wanted to work with horses."

Woodland Short Stay School is also known as the Woodland Primary Pupil Referral Unit. The school is located on Philip Road, High Wycombe and caters for pupils aged 5 to 11. Pupil Referral Units admit pupils with behavioural difficulties and others who can be identified as vulnerable because of their health or social and emotional difficulties.

¹Horsewyse is a Community Interest Company based in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire. The company, which is run by Karen and Neil Smith, works with young people and families to build confidence and self-esteem, and improve communication, through equine facilitated learning. For more information, visit: http://horsewyse.org.uk/