HorseBack UK have over the past 12 months restructured its courses so that they provide tangible learning objectives and clear, measurable learning outcomes. It is imperative that course attendees progress and take positive steps forward in their path to recovery. In light of the above HorseBack UK has been working with City and Guilds to achieve accreditation for the new courses as well as integrating into them the prestigious John Muir award.

With this in mind, our courses will now be in the following format:

Courses will be split into three separate week long phases.

Phase 1 – Discovery

The discovery week is aimed at finding out about the individual, the horses and the environment. Attendees will be introduced to like minded people with similar experiences. They will work with the horses on the ground as well as riding them in the latter part of the week. Other activities will include fishing, falconry and bushcraft as well as an introduction to the environment.

Phase 2 – Conserve

The conserve week aims to improve horsemanship skills both on the ground and in the saddle as well as an introduction to conservation of the local environment. Participants will recap skills such as map reading as well as learning possible new skills such as dry stone walling.

Phase 3 – Explore and Share

The final week is about planning and preparation for the overnight expedition. Participants will plan the route and pack all necessary equipment. They will then ride the horses to the pre-planned destination where they will set up camp for the night. The horses will be ridden back to base the following day where preparation will then be made to give a five minute presentation on their experience of the course. This presentation can take any number of formats from audio recordings, art, poetry, photography or by using more traditional methods. An award ceremony will follow these presentations.

In the initial stages of the course, participants will receive information about other agencies which can assist them in areas such as housing, benefits, pensions etc. They will also be assigned a key worker dependant on location who will be responsible for their personal well being.

On completion of the three phases it is hoped that participants have improved confidence and self esteem and a feeling of self worth. They will have become part of a team once again and had to work within that team to achieve set goals. Through working with the horses they will have re-established leadership skills, addressed body language and possibly other issues such as anger. They will have made new friends who have experienced similar issues with whom they are encouraged to keep in contact with and set realistic goals and targets both short and long term.

Beyond the courses, HorseBack provides the opportunity to return as a volunteer and take on a variety of jobs, from working with the horses and course participants to building, painting and fencing. This cements the feeling of being part of a team and develops vital new skills. For those who cannot take regular employment for medical reasons, it also gives the satisfaction of a job well done. Crucially, it provides the comforting knowledge that there is a safe place for participants to come. Isolation is one of the greatest threats to those we help, and the rolling volunteer programme is designed to combat this.

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