Can horses teach us a better way of doing things?

Our Entry and Foundation Department is successfully using natural horsemanship methods to help both learners and staff.

Taking elements from techniques used by Monty Roberts, Kelly Marks and other practitioners who specialise in non-verbal cues and body language, the department has developed an equine assisted learning programme in which horses have become the teachers.

Around 30 staff and over 100 students have already benefited from workshops which involve team work with an equine partner.

The initiative is being led by Foundation Instructor Lisa Brewitt, who was awarded the Innovation Award in Reaseheath’s Awards of Excellence 2012 for her work on the innovative teaching techniques. Very few UK centres offer this type of training.

The programme was initially aimed at Pre-Entry to Level 1 students with learning difficulties, particularly those with autism and anxiety behaviour. It can develop self confidence, self esteem, communication, problem solving and team work.

The workshops have been so successful that they have been taken up by students from visiting specialist schools. Lisa has also run seven staff workshops, which cover  scientific and theoretical aspects as well as practical activities. These have underlined the importance of non verbal communication and how this can promote more effective classroom management.

As well as the Foundation team, colleagues from our student welfare and train to gain teams have used the workshops for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). A growing list of external professionals from specialist schools, colleges and secure units have also attended at full cost.

The equine trainers are ponies from our animal management department and equestrian centre and Lisa’s own retrained ex-racehorse. Our animal management department uses elements of the programme.

Lisa says: “Lots of our learners have difficulty with social interaction and in understanding eye and body language. Team work with an equine partner shows you how you can get over obstacles in life such as these.”

Workshops are offered mainly during college holidays. Demand is high, particularly for staff team building and problem solving.  If you want to know more, email