Recently, at Abbey United Reformed Church, the young people introduced the charity they will support during 2019. The Pioneers explained the work done by The Fortune Centre for Riding Therapy; the centre runs a further education course for young people who, for a number of reasons, do not find it easy to learn.
The Pioneers visited The Fortune Centre on a wet and windy February day, but were warmly welcomed by Suzanne who explained:
Horses help with our teaching. Everything we teach, we do with the help of the horses – the stable yard is our classroom. It’s important the skills they are taught can be applied in their own lives to help their own development.
Suzanne took The Pioneers on a tour of the Centre. First stop was the kitchen where they have a chart showing what horse needed which food, how much and when. The students learn to find the name of the horse, measure out the amount of hay and other foodstuffs they need – including fractions. The students learn from this the importance of a good diet and eating the right amount of food.
Visiting the horses was next, each in their own stable. On the door was a risk assessment. This included 14 things like whether this horse liked being groomed or clipped or was easy to transport. These were colour coded. Green meant the horse was happy with the activity, amber meant the activity had to be done with care, red meant this activity should only be done by a member of staff – a simple but brilliant idea.
From this the students learn that the horses are all different, and just like people have their own likes and dislikes which have to be respected. Learning through the routine of caring for the horses and their surroundings prepares the students for independent living. The students have to groom the horses and keep their stables clean and fresh. This helps them to see the need to keep themselves and their own rooms clean. They have one day off a week which is ‘money’ day when they do their shopping and learn how to handle their money.
Finally, The Pioneers visited the big indoor arena where they did some rhythm work with a horse called Jackson. Jackson was on a long rein and was walking round in a circle at a steady pace. They had to learn to walk around to the rhythm of the horse, keeping in step with him; if he went faster, so did they. The Pioneers had a lovely morning at the Centre.
I enjoyed working with Jackson, I’m glad we’ve decided to sponsor him. All the money we raise this year will go to paying for his care, his food and his bedding.