The British Horse Society (BHS) is thrilled to be supporting Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week (6-12 February) through its Changing Lives Through Horses initiative (CLTH).
The initiative, set up in 2016, is an alternative education programme which reconnects disadvantaged and disengaged people, aged between 5-25, back into communities through the magic of horses. Using the unique equestrian environment, the CLTH programme has supported over 1,700 young people so far, allowing them to rekindle their desire to continue with education and training.
The horse-led scheme helps young people who, for whatever reason, have become, or are at risk of becoming, disengaged or excluded from education or training; or those with additional needs that mean they need more support to maintain their school placement. All the skills developed through Changing Lives through Horses will help their transition into further education, training and progression. Offering this alternative educational setting is particularly important, with Think Tank announcing last year that an estimated two million children in England are missing from school.
The CLtH programme uses a range of awards and achievements within a professional equine setting linked to the school curriculum but is focused and structured towards promoting holistic development and nurturing six life skills: building relationships, communication, confidence, responsibility, teamwork, and perseverance.
Working with horses can have a real benefit to the lives of young people. They require hard work, but they do not judge, so they provide the perfect companion for those that have had a less fortunate start in life. Many of the horses have been rescued as part of the BHS’s Second Chance scheme and have themselves had a hard start to life. Allowing young people to have the opportunity to care for the horses provides them with a chance to show their commitment and develop life skills.
This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week theme is Let’s Connect. The CLTH programme uses the unique equestrian environment to provide participants with a natural sense of structure and responsibility. By working with horses, young people can connect once again with society and improve their well-being. Together, this combination helps assist in the development of essential skills for the rest of their lives.
Alison Blackmore Head of Changing Lives through Horses at the British Horse Society said:
“The Changing Lives Through Horses Programme is about the vital importance of relationships, both with horses and people, and creating a sense of belonging for children and young people who, for whatever reason, find emotional connections difficult in educational and social environments.
Engaging with horses can be a real breakthrough for young people, bringing out their confidence once again. Those that take part are deeply engaged and many of them even go on to have a career within the industry. It’s incredible, and it’s all done through the magic of horses.”
In 2022, over five hundred young people took part at over sixty centres across the country, almost double compared to 2021. 73% of participants exited the programme on to a planned pathway or continue education with a different provider to commence a work placement or training programme.
Changing Lives through Horses is partially funded by donations from The British Horse Society. If you would like to help change a life and support our work, please visit Donate | The British Horse Society.