“An anchor in the midst of the storm” - HorseWorld helping vulnerable young people to cope in the Covid crisis.

  • Rescued horses supporting vulnerable youngsters struggling to cope with additional Covid stress
  • Charity unable to accommodate a huge increase in demand for places on Discovery programme

1-312.jpgHorseWorld, the Bristol-based horse rescue charity, is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the county’s teachers as they continue to provide live-changing equine assisted learning sessions to local children and young people.

As a registered alternative learning provider, the charity has been able to continue delivering their Discovery Programme which came as a huge relief to course facilitators after the total shutdown brought about by the previous lockdown.

HorseWorld’s Discovery programme helps children and young people who need extra support to cope with everyday life as well as those 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.

“Many of our students find comfort in routine and need predictability in their lives to feel confident and secure, so the sudden stopping of courses during the first lockdown was very difficult for them,” said Sharon Howell, Discovery Course Leader.

Connecting with our horses can be a huge source of comfort and a calming influence for our students, so to have it taken away from them at a time when their anxiety and stress was probably at an all-time high was incredibly difficult for many of them. A huge source of support had been suddenly removed at the time they needed it the most.”

“Hearing how some of our students really struggled without being able to be here for their regular sessions was heart-breaking; but at the time there was nothing we could do,” said Sharon.

As soon as the first lockdown was lifted the Discovery team started planning and putting measures in place so that they could welcome students back once given the go-ahead.

Petra Ingram, HorseWorld’s Chief Executive said hearing from our students about the impact that living during these troubling times is having on them is a huge reminder of how essential these courses are for the vulnerable children and young adults who come to us.

Our amazing rescued horses give students more than a reason to be calm, or manage their emotions, or improve their communication skills; for some of our young people they are the one constant in their lives. We literally are a port in a seemingly constant storm, and our horses are often the only anchor they can rely on.”

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, said Petra.

The charity now faces another challenge; how to deal with the huge increase in demand for the Discovery programme.

“We’ve experienced a massive rise in calls from education services, specialist provision units, and local authorities, all of which have children and young people in desperate need of the unique support and transformation our Discovery courses offer,” said Sharon.

We are receiving urgent enquiries every day. The fact that demand for Discovery is at an all-time high is a sad indication that recent events have taken a huge toll on vulnerable children and young people, as well as a testament to the amazing work of our teams, and our wonderful horses. We would love to be able to help every young person who needs us, because we know these courses change lives, but we currently just don’t have the capacity to do more,” said Sharon.


Please note all photographs were taken prior to social distancing and PPE requirements.

Posted on: 25th November 2020