School children experience benefit of horses in learning
By Sarah Wood
Children and teachers from five Gloucestershire schools headed to Hartpury University and Hartpury College recently to experience the benefits of learning around horses.
HorseBack UK returned to Hartpury for a second week-long event, aiming to support children in Gloucestershire through trialling alternative learning to boost confidence, motivation and self-esteem.
Hartpury hosted the event alongside charity partners HorseBack UK and The Sedbury Trust, providing horses, ponies and student volunteers to facilitate the sessions.
Children aged between 13 and 14 from Holmleigh Park High School, Severn Vale School, Pittville School, Bettridge School, and The Peak Academy all engaged with the programme, which was fully funded by The Sedbury Trust.
Staff, students and horses tackled a variety of exercises, formulated and overseen by members of the HorseBack UK charity - an organisation committed to using the benefits of horsemanship to boost communication and leadership skills.
Originally founded to help military veterans transition to civilian life, HorseBack UK has expanded its work to include a Schools Development Programme.
Teachers were impressed at how involved the children became as they worked in groups and one-on-one, developing team building and resilience, whilst increasing their focus through cognitive learning.
There were benefits for Hartpury students too, in developing their own coaching and communication skills as they worked with the children. Student volunteers were chosen from a broad spectrum of Hartpury's undergraduate and postgraduate equine degrees, working alongside members of the equine events team and yard staff.
Phillip Cheetham, equine director at Hartpury, said: "We're delighted to have been able to welcome children and teachers from five Gloucestershire schools to experience the many benefits of being around horses and ponies.
"This is the second time HorseBack UK has visited Hartpury to deliver equine-assisted learning sessions and the transformation in the children is staggering. They seem to grow in confidence as they handle the horses and ponies and interact with our student volunteers, who've had an equally enjoyable time and no doubt benefited from the experience.
"It's great for us to be able to draw on our industry partnerships and share our world-leading facilities to ultimately benefit young people and children in our community and encourage retention and progression in education."
Perry the rescue pony, a permanent resident of Hartpury, was a particular hit and the events took place in the new Equine and Animal Assisted Activities Area (EAAAA). The facility was launched in 2022 and has a round pen, which provides the perfect setting to work with horses, putting newly learnt skills into practice and carrying out research.
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