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One of the things that we were most pleased and proud about last year was our Youth Initiative Programme. This was an idea that started with Mr Colin Nicoll of Banchory Academy, and HorseBack took the ball and ran with it.
We take young people who are having a variety of problems at school and put them through a horsemanship course which runs over fifteen weeks. They learn to look after the horses, work with the horses and understand the horses. It is hard work and they are outside in all weathers, but they rise to the challenge in the most remarkable way.
The early pilot programmes were a huge success, as the students grew in confidence and self-belief before our eyes.
Almost the best thing about these courses is that our veterans come and volunteer as mentors, working with the children, acting as an inspiration, and showing what is possible. This completes what we think of as the virtuous HorseBack circle – veterans with life-changing injuries are helped by HorseBack and then go on to help others in their turn. Many of them say that they find this giving back one of the most powerful tools on their road to recovery. It is one of those rare cases in life where everybody wins.