What is Discovery?
HorseWorld’s Discovery programme helps children and young people who, for various reasons, have difficulties accessing mainstream education. Through sessions with specially selected rescued horses, the young people develop the skills needed to build resilience, improve communication skills, find their confidence and self-belief, and as a result better cope with the challenges of life.
Discovery has brought about outstanding results when nothing else has worked for the individual or the group; our horses have shown us that they have the capacity to change lives and we are seeing the evidence almost every day.
We are able to ignite a love of learning, nourish developing minds and give vulnerable children and young people hope for a brighter future.
Our Mission Statement
Discovery unites gentle horses with young people who are outside of mainstream education or those who face adversity in a formal school setting, with the aim of supporting them to develop essential life skills and encouraging aspirations to lead meaningful and purposeful lives.
Our EthosDiscovery provides a safe, nurturing and welcoming environment, in which every young person feels valued, loved and respected as a unique individual. Discovery is a non-judgemental space where each and every child, young person, adult and horse are accepted; a place where they can belong and achieve.
Why use horses?
Horses are non-judgemental, with no preconceived expectations or motives, which allows the young people to develop relationships based on mutual trust and respect. Just like our students each of our horses, most of which have been rescued by HorseWorld, has its own unique personality and qualities. They can be stubborn, fun, defiant, caring, anxious, impatient or loving.
Their sensitive nature means that horses are naturally inclined to mirror our behaviour. They can read our body language and instantly respond. This encourages the young people who come to us (many of whom already have a negative mindset) to discover how they can be calm, confident and open to the experiences the horses offer.
A horse can become fearful or agitated if a person is aggressive, noisy, or disrespectful; they are naturally a prey animal so are always looking to feel safe and find companionship and leadership. If a person makes requests rather than demands the horse is likely to begin to cooperate.
When the horses react to a young person’s actions, behaviour or approach they send a clear message which helps the student to assess their actions, reflect, and challenge the way that they handled the situation; an essential skill both for the Discovery course and for life in the wider world.
Working in an environment so different to the traditional classroom and structured school setting gives each pupil the opportunity to excel in a myriad of different ways. Being outdoors and learning from the horses gives the students a sense of responsibility, with rules that have clear purpose and consequences, and all contributes to producing unique and rewarding emotional connections.
Who do we work with?
We work closely with schools, social care, the local hospital education services and specialist provision units. We are registered Alternative Provision providers for Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council, and work with many other local authorities.
However, anyone can refer a student to the Discovery programme – please contact us to discuss the needs of any young person you think could benefit.
What can students learn through Discovery?
No two journeys through Discovery are the same. The wellbeing and personal development of each child is at the heart of everything we do.
Obviously, outcomes will vary for each student, depending on the challenges they are facing in their own circumstances, but we know that our students can learn a variety of essential transferable life skills such as;
- Teamwork and learning as part of a group
- Decision making
- Problem solving and concentration
- Anger management
- Working within rules
- Experiencing clear consequences to actions
- Creating rewarding emotional connections
- Responsibility and leadership
- Emotional development
- Trusting and respecting others
- Social skills
How does it work?
Discovery provides a safe, supervised, hands-on learner-centered curriculum of activities. Over a course of sessions participants learn the basics of horse handling, care, training and riding. Each week builds on the skills learned previously, at the right pace for each learner.
But Discovery sessions are about so much more than learning how to care for a horse. Through these practical lessons and experiences participants also develop skills which are transferrable to many areas of their life.
They learn how to work in collaboration with other people; how to concentrate on a task; how to ask questions; how to solve problems; and how to build positive relationships (with the horses, with each other, and with staff members and volunteers.)
Discovery has been created to ensure that young people will achieve; a prospect that many have given up on. They are supported to discover skills they did not know they had, which ultimately boosts their confidence and self-esteem.
From the very first session learners gain a sense of achievement when they rise to the challenge of taking responsibility for themselves and the horse they’re working with. For many, this will be the first time they have engaged in learning for a long time.