Horses are my saviour - How rescued horses rescued Richard

Bristol charity, HorseWorld Trust, helps 21 year-old Richard face his fears and beat his self-harming issues and depression by offering him a place where he feels safe and at ease. Richard who used to self harm and wouldn’t leave the safety of his home now volunteers at HorseWorld a few days a week meeting and greeting the public as well as working alongside rescued horses.

Richard has been volunteering at HorseWorld for around 9 months now and has seen dramatic changes in his own behaviour since he started. Before he came to HorseWorld his life was drastically different to the point where even a doctor’s appointment would fill him with anxiety. Richard explains his story:

“I have been volunteering at HorseWorld for roughly nine months now. I always knew of HorseWorld and knew they took on volunteers; I just didn’t have the courage to try volunteering myself.

“Before I came to HorseWorld I didn’t really go anywhere unless it was late and I was with my mum or sister because my anxiety pretty much controlled my life. I was able to go to the stables where my sister kept her horse as long as my mum and sister were with me and stayed with me the entire time, even then I felt panicked. During this time I also had a massive on-and-off issue with self harm, this was because of my depression which I suffered with since the age of twelve.

“I really didn’t have much of a life then, I didn’t see anyone unless they came up to my house and I wouldn’t go to the cinema unless it was the latest showing and there was no-one else in the cinema. If there were other people around, I would ask my mum to take me home. I couldn’t go shopping at all even with my mum. I’d panic about going to a doctor’s appointment. Life before HorseWorld was hard work.

“When I first started at HorseWorld I almost backed out because I was so nervous about going in alone. My Mum had to walk me down to the staffroom where I met the grooms, for the first time. Where I was so nervous I just literally spoke and spoke at them rather than too them.

“After a few hours I noticed that the horses were helping with calming my nerves. As well as the horses the staff were so welcoming and would listen to me banter on, even though I would be talking about literally anything and nothing. All of the staff and other volunteers would speak to me and on my tea break they would make me a cuppa and would ask about how my day was and what I had been up to.

“Everyone at HorseWorld is so patient with me, especially when my nerves get the better of me and I panic about doing something on my own. The grooms always understand and help me by showing me exactly what I need to do and would even repeat and do the task with me again the following week if I was still uncertain about doing it on my own.

“Three weeks after starting HorseWorld I started walking onto the yard on my own and shortly afterwards because the staff were so nice I started walking from the car park all the way to the yard on my own, which was a mega improvement.

“All the grooms in HorseWorld are always welcoming and I just started to feel accepted there which made me really happy. I started to open up to them about how my nerves would get the better of me a lot and they always said from the beginning  ‘don’t panic if someone speaks to you and asks questions’. I would worry that I would not be able to answer them properly. Instead the grooms  taught me how to politely answer a visitor’s question and show them to a groom that could help.  One of the grooms even taught me the best way to calm my nerves down ‘Stop and breathe’ and that helped massively.

“After a few weeks I asked if I could volunteer more and help out on a weekend. This was because I loved it so much and the horses and staff were helping me with my anxiety. The volunteer coordinator found that Saturday morning needed a volunteer. When I started on the first Saturday morning my nerves went a bit mad because it was on a weekend so there could be more visitors and some other staff that I haven’t met but again everyone was amazing and made me feel more confident and happy.

“Since I’ve been at HorseWorld I haven’t self harmed which is the longest I’ve not cut. Being in HorseWorld I can now talk to all the public with ease and I can do most tasks without panicking. This is all because of the help from the staff; I am a lot happier in general. I can walk up to the stables around the corner of my house on my own now because of the techniques the grooms have taught me. I still can’t quite go anywhere else on my own but my confidence has majorly grown.

“HorseWorld now is a place where I can be myself and just being at HorseWorld has helped with my anxiety and depression. It’s all because of the horses and the amazing staff at HorseWorld. I am very thankful for this.”


Article by: Samantha Greatbanks

Posted on: 24th January 2014