At HorseBack, we are constantly evaluating what we do and how we do it. One of the most satisfying innovations has been expanding our courses from one week to three weeks. The phases are staggered, so that the participants return to HorseBack over several months to complete the course.
We hoped that this might take the HorseBack experience to a new level, and, to our great delight, it has. The effects are various: some concrete and obvious, some more subtle and nuanced. Our veterans have much more time now to learn new skills and refine known ones. They can really get to know each other and work as a team. The bond they build with the horses, such an integral part of the process, has more space to bloom.
They have something to look forward to. Rather than the single week, which passes in a flash and then is finished and gone, there is now a second phase to get excited about, and a third one after that. The sense of achievement is heightened. HorseBack – both the place and the team – becomes familiar, so that the whole thing feels like a family. Because of all this, the veterans can use their initiative more; they know what they are doing and don’t always have to be instructed and supervised. We watch them grow in confidence, which is something we love to see.
This week, we had a group returning for their Phase Two. Everyone worked incredibly hard and well. By the end of the week they were doing complex drills, working in harmony with their horses and each other. The arc of progress was bright and shining.
‘They’ve done really brilliantly,’ said Jay Hare, our Head of Operations. ‘You can see the change in them.’ He looked up at the hills, where a sullen snow was coming in from the north. Blasts of Arctic air have besieged us this week and, even when the sun came out, it was bitterly cold. ‘They’ve even dealt with the weather,’ he said, with a wry smile.
Hats off to them all. Great work.