Discovery courses are run for young people (aged 6 to 19) who will typically be outside the mainstream education system and who may present an array of challenging behaviours. These include young people with communication, concentration and impulse control problems and withdrawn students. Course tutors have found Discovery Courses particularly beneficial to some young people with autism and ADHD.
Horses react as a mirror to the human. As prey animals, they want to feel safe whilst watchful for predators. They become fearful if a human is aggressive, noisy, disrespectful, or too controlling. If a human makes requests rather than demands, the horse begins to cooperate. Horses look for a leader, so, given a little insight into how to deal with a horse, a young person can become the natural leader the horse is looking for.
Young people are able to accept things at face value, open to developing an ‘equal’ relationship rather than needing to control. They are able to give simple commands which horses seek so they know what to do. The horse in return feels safe and peaceful and will respond positively to what the student asks of him.
Young people on Discovery Courses build their knowledge and competency levels, both in a practical sense and on an emotional level. The skills developed are retained far beyond the Welfare Yard at HorseWorld and apply at school, home and in the world in general.
Many young people have gone on to take City & Guild “Working Skills for Life” qualifications, in association with City of Bath College. On a broader level confidence, self-control, initiative and motivation increases. An awareness of team working, risk assessment, leadership and communication skills improves. A number of Discovery Course attendees have gone on to work within the equestrian world.