Prior to the restrictions due to the coronavirus crisis pandemic, our education team were continuing their work with young adults who are not in full-time education, training or employment. These young people were supported through our equine-assisted vocational training and personal development programmes. One of these participants is fifteen-year-old Jacob who was diagnosed with dyslexia four years ago.
Jacob’s mum, Cheryl, said: “Whilst his primary school understood how this can interfere with learning, his secondary school lacked the relevant experience. We felt let down by the system and like many these days, we decided to opt for home schooling.
“The Sanctuary has been a lifeline and the change in Jacob has been striking. He’s always loved horses and this has given him a real sense of belonging, of being a valued part of something so worthwhile. On top of that, it’s inspired him to plan his future. It’s giving him ideas, opening doors. It’s very positive in every way.”
Focusing initially on stable management and fundamental riding skills, the programme is designed to reach out to disengaged young people at a critical time in life. Jacob’s riding had improved, he’d been enjoying the sessions and struck up a firm friendship with our horse Quest.
Jacob told us: “The Mare and Foal Sanctuary has given me a great opportunity. I want to complete the British Horse Society courses and get my licence to teach children how to ride.
“Working here you feel valued and free. It makes me feel good to be helping horses and ponies who have had a bad time and have had to be rescued.”
Sanctuary Head of Education, Dawn Neil, said she had seen Jacob’s confidence with horses continue to grow. “The young people on the course relate to our horses and ponies because they understand many of them have had tough starts in life. It’s amazing watching them bond while learning so many new skills that they can transfer into their own lives, whatever their chosen vocation may be. Jacob is a lovely young man and we’re delighted he is getting so much out of this course. It has given him a brighter future to work towards.”