Strength and Learning Through Horses

Strength and Learning Through Horses

At a glance


  • Children / families
  • Counselling / advice
  • Education
  • Health and well being / research and care
  • Learning disabilities / difficulties
  • Mental health
  • Training / employment support
  • Young people

Other details

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Strength and Learning Through Horses runs alternative education and equine therapy programmes in North London, helping vulnerable young people to develop vital life skills through working with horses. Its programmes use horse therapy and equine assisted learning to as a way to equip participants with the skills and self-belief that they need to re-engage with education or employment.

More than 300 young people attend S and LTH programmes each year, benefitting from increased confidence, team work and leadership skills, improved time management; raised aspirations for future work and increased engagement with education or employment.  

Why horses?

Horses make powerful therapists and teachers. As herd animals, horses rely on their ability to forge strong relationships with one another for survival, which makes them incredibly socially sensitive. 99% of equine communication is through body language which means that horses immediately pick up on changes in mental state by sensing minute changes in body language. As a result, horses can help young people struggling with behavioural and mental health problems to learn and develop vital life skills.

What do horses actually do to help young people learn?

  • Quickly break down defences and aggressive reactions
  • Create immediate cause and effect situations from which young people can learn the consequences of their actions
  • Challenge young people’s behaviour in non-threatening ways that are open and honest
  • Motivate and hold attention
  • Promote change from negative patterns to more positive healthy ones
  • Enable serious life lessons to be learnt in a fun and relaxed way



How does equine assisted learning work?

Equine assisted learning programmes provide an opportunity for young people to learn about horse behaviour and non-violent horse training techniques ("horse whispering") and in doing so learn a range of skills which are essential for success in education, employment and for building relationships with others.

How do sessions work?

Equine assisted learning sessions are designed with the specific needs and goals of individual clients in mind. Courses can range from one-off sessions which focus on one specific personal development goal to longer, more detailed courses working towards accredited qualifications in personal and employability skills or equine skills specifically. 

Each individual equine assisted learning session involves setting up an activity for the student(s) involving interacting with and training horses. The challenge in completing each activity for the student is to create a relationship with the horse and communicate effectively in order to achieve the training task. The process of engaging with the horses during this activity reveals important insights into the way students communicate and behave. Horses offer immediate and honest feedback by responding to  body language and behaviour which provides a powerful opportunity to process what this feedback means for the individual. Many sessions involve working with horses loose in an arena since leaving the horses loose gives them freedom to respond directly to the young people’s body language. The important value of equine assisted learning is the power of the horse to mirror people's emotions and body language. Many clients will initially blame the horse for any communication difficulties, for example 'the horse is stupid' or 'the horse is difficult'. The lesson to be learnt here is that a change in the attitude and body language of the client can have a profound effect on the behaviour of the horse. A lesson which the client can take into the wider world.

The Employability and Horsemanship Skills Course is a personal development programme for young people out of work or education. The course provides an opportunity for clients to develop vital skills required for employment and educational success. Upon completion of the course clients will also have a solid foundation of knowledge of horsemanship skills which opens the doors to employment opportunities in the equestrian and animal husbandry industries as well as a qualification which evidences that they have the personal skills to make a good employee in any industry. 

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