Discovery saved my life - How HorseWorld's Discovery Courses helped Josh

Ex Discovery student and apprentice, and now key member of our maintenance team, Josh Banks shared his reflections on how the programme helped him change his life, as part of National Men's Mental Health Week.

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Josh Banks was just 15 when he was referred to HorseWorld to take part in a Discovery Course after being diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. He had been removed from school and sent to an external education provider as his behaviour had become too disruptive to remain in mainstream education.

A lot of young people like Josh can find it difficult to cope in a classroom environment and their struggle can manifest itself as bad behaviour.

“I couldn’t acknowledge emotions and feelings and understand fully what people were trying to explain to me.” Said Josh “So trying to read out of a book, in a science lesson, didn’t help at all because I couldn’t make that picture up in my head. I was struggling more and more with reading, I couldn’t put it together in a sentence so it was pointless trying to teach me in that way. I’m better physically learning. If you show me something, and get me to do it, I’ve learnt it for life. Whereas if you tell me something you’d probably have to tell me for the next 3 years because it won’t stick.

“When I first got to HorseWorld I thought, I don’t actually want to be doing this…....but then I met Sharon (the Discovery Course Leader) and got through the first day. I started to think, actually this is quite good...and it actually managed to keep me in class at school. I knew if I behaved there, I would be allowed to come to HorseWorld.

As the course progressed, the benefits to Josh became more and more apparent. His concentration, self-esteem, social and communication skills all improved.

“They realised that I was starting to calm down a bit more in class. They were seeing the benefit of me coming here and my attitude changing. I wasn’t aware of it at the time. My attitude was only different on the days that I was coming to HorseWorld. On all the other days I was acting-up and not wanting to do anything, but on the days I was coming here I made sure I was good so that I could come.”

When the six week course finished, Josh unfortunately became disruptive in school again and was once again removed from class. “The school spoke to Sharon about whether I could come here full time, and do courses plus something a bit like an something that would end up with me having a qualification at the end of it.” Said Josh

“I think with the things that went on with school, no other school in Bristol wanted to take me. That was the last chance. They could see the potential in me with Discovery and they didn’t want to take that away from me because they knew I could actually do OK with that...and there were never any problems because I always did what I was told, and didn’t cause a fuss or start any fights, and they saw it was a good idea.”

Josh volunteered at HorseWorld as part of an animal care course for a year until he was offered an apprenticeship. He went on to become a valued member of staff working on HorseWorld’s Maintenance team where he remains to this day.

“Coming to Discovery and being offered an apprenticeship was a big deal for me. From thinking that my life was over, that I had nothing, that I was never going to have anything and I’ll just be sitting on the street corner begging for money, there was a lightbulb which went on and I thought, I could do something with my life!”

If you would like to know more about HorseWorld’s life-changing Discovery Courses, visit

To donate to Discovery and help more young people like Josh and the rescued horses that work with them, please click here

Article by: Amy Williams

Posted on: 17th June 2021