Horse therapy feedback Nov 2022 Z Female Aged 14 - Our students going were initially anxious but are now more confident in the sessions. When they come back to class they are speaking to their peers about what has happened and in more detail as the weeks go on. It has been commented on by staff that some students have been very scared of the horses at first and by the final week have been close to the animals and laughing. We have seen a real improvement in confidence and communication. J Male Aged 13 - I can see this reflecting in my student's confidence and self-esteem in a very positive way. He is proud of himself and what he has experienced and achieved in each Horse therapy session he goes to. His communication has also improved - he finds it motivating to tell us all in class what he's been up to and explains how you need to do certain things when you are around horses. He certainly gained a sense of achievement and pride in his skills and ability to be a successful, participating peer of this group. Long may it continue please! We are immensely grateful for this opportunity! A Male Aged 14- thoroughly enjoys going to horse therapy; it helps him with regulating his emotions as he is a very sensitive young man and can over think things at times. He talks about his time spent with the horses in such a positive way and how much it relaxes him every time he returns from horse therapy.  T Female Aged 16 - has really benefitted from being able to attend another block of horse therapy sessions. She likes that she has done it before, so knows what is going on and has shown some leadership skills in the sessions that we have never seen from her before. She has recently transitioned to FE and has been less outgoing than she had been due to being with less familiar staff, but when she returns from horse therapy sessions she is happy, smiling and more communicative and co-operative than at other times. J Female Aged 14 - has been very excited to go and do her horse therapy sessions. When she comes back from the sessions she is full of excitement and desperate to talk about what she has done with the horses. She has been more confident in shearing her ideas and horse therapy has given her a new topic to talk about. Q Make Aged 14 is very much a teenager and desperate to be in with the cool boys. Horse therapy is a wonderful release for him where he can just go and be himself. He talks enthusiastically about the horses (Woody is his favourite!) and what he has learnt in the sessions. He has been very calm and opened up a lot to staff and has been talking more and more willing to communicate.

A - Male - aged 8 A has a diagnosis of Autism (recent diagnosis). A struggles at times to integrate with his peers so the therapy sessions really helped him to build relationships, whilst working in a smaller group. A can often be shy to speak out in class and answer questions; therapy sessions have helped build his confidence and he seems a lot happier to answer questions in class now. A says "I have really enjoyed the sessions, particularly taking care of the horses. I feel that the sessions have helped me learn more about boundaries." A - Female - aged 9 - A is going through a difficult time at the moment both at school and home. Equine sessions have provided a calm, safe place for her to go each week. It has been really important for A to revisit our school values but in a different context of therapy sessions. It has allowed A to see that the wider community also base their day to day lives around British values. A does not often get to go out and about during school holidays and weekends and her life experiences are very limited. Equine therapy sessions have provided A with a life experience she would have not otherwise had the chance to be part of. D - Male - aged 7 - D has a diagnosis of Autism. He does not socialise much during the weekends or school holidays as his behaviour can be a little challenging for his mum at times. Equine therapy sessions have been very beneficial for D, not just the time at the stables but also experiencing a journey in a minibus to get there. D often struggles when his routine is different but from the first week of going to the sessions he surprised us with his confidence and ability to adapt to a very different afternoon to that of a school day. D - Male - aged 9 - D struggles greatly in class and is waiting for an appointment to be assessed for ADHD. D has excelled himself at therapy sessions and has usually taken a lead role supporting the horses and the other children. D showed himself to be calm and collective when at sessions; very different to when he is in a busy classroom. D has shown himself to be a great carer towards animals and is very proud of this success. S - Female - aged 7 - S is a quiet pupil in school and needs a lot of encouragement to answer questions and to speak out about how she is feeling etc. Equine sessions have supported S in a small, quieter environment and she has felt a lot more at ease to take part and speak out: this seems to have got easier for her in class now too. B Male - aged 8 - B is usually quite reserved in class and will let others in the class answer questions rather than initiating conversation himself. Equine sessions have allowed B to work in a smaller group; he has felt more able to speak out. B finds it difficult to change his routine and when things are different this can make him feel very anxious and unsettled. Equine sessions have provided B with a different routine to his usual school week but he has been able to accept this change to his routine as he feels comfortable and safe at the sessions. B says "I am finding it hard to reflect on the sessions but I did really like them."

Group 1: M……. was very quiet and nervous around the horses at first, but over the last few weeks has really come out of herself and gained confidence. She loved brushing and walking Velvet and having the ‘smaller’ horse really helped her. She was always very excited after sessions and wanted to share with her class and staff everything she had done which has been really good for her communication skills. A…. was very nervous at first, but was very excited to go each session and very talkative on her return to school. We have seen a real increase in her confidence, especially talking with less familiar staff. A…. was really persevering with tasks at the last session, where she gave up very easily to start with. A…. was ill unfortunately and only attended a couple of sessions. He was nervous at first, but then really started to engage with the tasks and the horses. He was much more confident towards the end of the sessions and has benefitted from using the breathing techniques and is a lot calmer. Y……would not go in the paddock on the first session and chose just to watch. By the final session it was hard to get him to leave and come out of the paddock! As the sessions continued, he engaged with unfamiliar staff, which he wouldn’t do at first and became much more talkative and confident. He enjoys anything to do with animals and was always excited to share what he had done when he returned to school. H…… as a year 7 is new to the school and didn’t know any of the other students and was quite shy of them as they are all bigger than him! He grew in confidence throughout the sessions and by the end of them was confident in supporting and encouraging some of the older students. He was very excited and asked more and more questions as the weeks went on, developing his functional communication skills. The first session J attended he wanted his one to one staff with him all the time, by the end of the sessions they had been able to step back and he was accessing the sessions independently. He also spoke to unfamiliar staff and this is a really big challenge for him that he has overcome. He started leading the horses on a longer lead which worked brilliantly for him – thank you for supporting him to do this! Group 2: We have seen an improvement in P…….s ability to wait and turn take. He is more accepting of not always being able to go first or be the first one picked. We have seen his movement as slower and calmer in some situations (particularly in moving around the school at break or lunchtimes) rather than always being in a rush – he has also waited better for staff attention. R… has seemed to grow in confidence over the last few weeks. When asked a question by staff, he is more forthcoming when speaking and also speaking in a calmer, slightly louder voice. He also seems to be less anxious on horse therapy days – his breathing is slower and his movement more relaxed. S has found horse therapy to be a very uplifting experience. When he returns to school he is so excited and desperate to tell everyone what he has been doing. It is wonderful to see him so animated and wanting to talk as he usually struggles with communication. It has been a very positive experience for him. Horse therapy has been a great experience for Z… he has never been close to a horse before. He seems much more settled and confident this year and always wants to talk about his experiences with the horses, where he is usually very quiet. He has really enjoyed leading the horses around the field. J……. has been really talkative about her experiences in horse therapy, where she is normally more reserved in her conversation. She really looked forward to her sessions and she gained confidence in going with unfamiliar staff to an unknown location which is something she has always found difficult.  L…. was always very quiet travelling to the horse therapy sessions but very bubbly and wanting to talk about her experiences on the way back. Staff saw an increase in her confidence and willingness to communicate. She also grew in confidence throughout the sessions becoming much more willing to engage as time went on.

Luton Secondary School - SENCO

CANter Equine Assisted Learning and Psychotherapy

Six of our pupils with a wide range of needs attended the six week programme held last Autumn. All of the pupils lacked confidence and had low self esteem and came from a variety of backgrounds including looked after and post looked after settings.

To see them grow and develop in confidence was a joy. Some pupils went from being very reluctant to take part to leading the groups and encouraging others by the end of the course. One of our pupils began by being absolutely terrified of having any contact with the horses at all to forming a strong bond with one particular therapy horse and coaching others in how to handle him. From a teacher’s perspective to see your pupils empowered to voice their innermost feelings, concerns and opinions was truly moving.

All of the above is a testament to the quality of the therapy and the commitment of the leaders Suzanne and Denise. The sessions are well structured with clear aims, giving pupils time to problem solve and reflect on what they had learned. We are all truly thankful to Suzanne, Denise and the generosity of Lottery Community Funding for making this possible.

Quotes from parents/carers and TAs

‘He has enjoyed it so much that he wants a framed picture of Woody by his bed. To see his self confidence and belief grow has been incredible.’

‘He has really developed his communication skills and become less of a stroppy teenager!’

‘The horses have enabled him to have some difficult conversations with us - things that he has never opened up about before’

‘She is such a quiet girl really afraid to talk to people but to see her open up and take the lead in some of the activities is incredible.’

How I felt: At the start I felt excited because we were going to see the horses. When we met the horses I was a bit nervous. When we were building a house I was happy. When we left I was a bit sad because I liked the horses but I’m excited for next week.

By Riley

Then the horses stayed in the house and we stroked the horses on the head. It made me feel calm and relaxed.

By William B

We met the horses and we talked about respect and where we feel respected. A lot of us said home, so we built a house out of stuff.

By William

We also did a breathing exercise and after that we went to say hello to the horses. I felt nervous because I didn’t want them to bite me or kick me. First we said hello to Woody then Tanner we said hello Lilibet we stroked them but Woody didn’t like being touched for some reason.

By Isabelle

We built a house using boxes and poles. I led a horse into our house. I’m very excited about seeing them next week.

By Ben

Before we met the horses, I felt excited and happy. Once I got there and met the horses I felt calm, relaxed and sad because I wanted to see them again. Whilst I was building a house for the horses, I felt very creative and happy that the horses liked it.

I loved the meditation and calming activities that we did with the ladies and the horses. Finally it was time to go back to school however I was sad as I did not want to leave. But we are seeing them again this Friday.

By Daniel
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