Experiential learning through horses
Bodster Equine Assisted Learning is an EAQ® Approved Centre based near Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. Jo and Giles have a herd of horses and ponies who are helping children, young people and adults to learn new skills and take part in accredited courses and qualifications.
The Centre works with anyone from 6 to 90 years including complex needs such as Autism, Asperger’s and Downs – in a supervised horse environment.
For Example: “TheStep-Up Program“
The Step-UP Program, in association with the Open College Network, offers equine facilitated learning and qualifications and is ideal for those who find it hard to cope with traditional schooling, have been truanting or are at risk of truanting, struggle with poor literacy and numeracy skills or are being bullied.
For Example: “Time out for Young Carers through Horse Activities”
Bodster EquineAssisted Learning won the Aviva Community Care Award to provide funding to offer a free opportunity for 10 young carers on the Isle of Wight to have respite experiencing fun interactions with ponies (on the ground). £1000 allowed 2 groups of 5 learners to experience 2 afternoons per group with two Bodster staff (total 8 hours per learner) completely free.
Why this Program? Providing such an on-going caring role to family members can impact emotionally, physically and socially on such carers. These young carers and their families often lack the funds to take part in such activities and by creating such a link Centre would hope to be able to offer further subsidised courses for them in the future.
Each afternoon the children had the opportunity to meet the ponies in a non-threatening environment where they had time just ‘being’ with the ponies. They were encouraged to learn how to look after the ponies through grooming tasks, complete creative tasks such as drawing and taking photographs and learning how to lead and be with the pony loose in the round pen.
They had the chance to connect with a pony and choose a pony to walk with them. They were encouraged to choose what they want to do and the freedom to ‘play’ and devise their own leading games with the ponies.
The very therapeutic nature of such sessions allowed these young carers to have time to reflect and discuss their feelings. By mixing with other children of similar age to them they will have real time to socialise and develop friendships which they could to continue to develop after the course.
The project also offered one-to-one support for each ‘carer’ participating to look at how they could access the service in the future and the centre is working on how to devise further ongoing sessions of respite for them in the coming years.
This program enabled young carers to have time to be “just children having fun”.