"A student-a-day" landmark reached as Discovery's popularity soars

As 2012 ends, staff at a leading Bristol-based animal welfare charity are celebrating having doubled the number of students attending a ground-breaking project which uses horses to help young people with emotional, behavioural and learning issues.

Discovery Courses at HorseWorld, Whitchurch, provide first-hand experience of working with horses in the outdoors for children and young people. Combined with classroom-based interactive studies in numeracy, literacy and art, the courses are available to young people from Bristol, B&NES, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

“End-of-year figures show that demand for Discovery has doubled over the last twelve months,” said course leader Sharon Howell. 

L to R: Discovery's Sharon Howell, Phoebe, student Kerry Bowyer“In the past year we’ve had 361 young people attending our courses: averaging more or less one-a-day for the year.

“Many of these young people have been able to return to mainstream schooling after attending Discovery, or have gone on to college courses, something which would previously have been out of the question for these individuals.”

Discovery courses provide young people with competencies that give them the best possible chance of succeeding in the future. Using horses as a unique learning tool to promote personal development, supporting emotional growth and learning through a curriculum combining outdoor physical activity and close contact with horses, improving students’ capacity to concentrate; communicate; interact; work as a team member; be self motivated; feel confident, and exercise self control. Those who find it hard to concentrate or to control their impulses can focus on a horse for long periods while grooming or leading the animal. Withdrawn students often begin to express themselves, developing words or gestures they haven’t previously used.


Looking ahead, Sharon Howell outlined how funding difficulties inhibit the project’s further growth: “Our main current restriction is funding,” she said. “There is easily enough demand to fill these courses seven days a week but funding for this has proved to be our main obstacle. Our future hopes are to secure enough funding to be able to help everybody who applies for the courses. We’re always on the lookout for businesses or individuals to sponsor aspects of the programmes – in doing so, they can help change lives.”

HorseWorld is also looking to recruit volunteers to help run this scheme. For further details please email frances.mallender@horseworld.org.uk or call 01275 893039.

For more information about HorseWorld’s Discovery Courses, please use this link  or

email: discovery@horseworld.org.uk

phone: 01275 893023

Article by: Richard Wyatt

Posted on: 21st December 2013