Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


Navigating the tricky issues of growing up - bullying, high expectations and low self esteem - is what lies at the heart of some HorseHeard programmes. The organisation shares its vision of improving the lives, self confidence, attitudes, behaviour, life skills and academic achievement of young people.
As herd animals, horses are highly aware of the energy and intention of those around them and being prey animals they are constantly sensitive to their environment. Any cause for anxiety is immediately transmitted throughout the herd and this unique evolutionary trait enables the horse to pick up the child’s emotional state and react accordingly giving honest instant feedback. Using horses and specially trained facilitators, children go through a range of tasks, individually and in teams, which results in them becoming more self aware. Best of all, it’s fun, results are quick and measurable, and can be transferred back into children’s everyday lives.
“I don’t need to be scared”
“I am able to do things I didn’t think I could”

HorseHeard, supported by a nationwide network of trained associate facilitators, is delivering unique and innovative Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) programmes to support some of the neediest young people from diverse backgrounds to develop their full individual potential.

Towards this aim, we are specifically wanting to engage with Hugh Myddelton Primary School and it’s partner Winton Primary School in Islington, London. These schools have a high ethnic majority with 49% for whom english is not a first language and 62% of children on pupil premium. Although acknowledging fantastic key stage 2 results, the schools recognise that due to difficult home lives some of the children lack emotional resilience and self-esteem. Living in central London many have no connection with outdoors. A cluster arrangement involving children from both schools could promote integration and and wider sense of community.

‘Being Friends’ programmes deliver four half day sessions for year 5/6 pupils that are led by two facilitators and held at a local riding school using their regular ponies. Over the four weeks the young people learn about themselves and their reactions whilst working both with the horse in the arena and in the class room (no riding involved). The short term results from these programmes are positive. The children find a voice and a strength to do things differently - to speak up in class, to moderate their disruptiveness, to be a leader. Excitingly, there is evidence being collected that shows these behavioural changes are life altering and long term.

Every programme also involves a introductory session for parents and teachers so they experience EFL themselves. This enables them to support the child’s learning. From a community prospective, improved child well-being reflects positively on the family as a whole. Horseheard is inclusive, working with diverse groups including children with special needs, those at risk of exclusion, anti-bullying. Well targeted early interventions reduce the likelihood of later anti-social behaviour.

The HorseHeard experience benefits the whole community - less conflict, better understanding and increased feeling of self worth.

Project Video


Moment of Pride

As a facilitator, I am proud to be involved in the achievements HorseHeard programmes make and to witness the impact on a community. I have watched young people grow in confidence and self belief, gaining the opportunity to learn about themselves and develop to their full potential.

Location: Islington, London, UK