How equine-assisted learning can build a child's self-esteem
What do you get if you take three Shetland ponies and team them with six disaffected pupils? The answer, surprisingly, isn't chaos and a call to the RSPCA. In fact, working with horses has been shown to benefit children, particularly those who have learning or behavioural difficulties.
One example of equine-assisted learning in a "real-life" setting involved children at a school in South Warwickshire who had been identified as having behavioural issues. First, the children worked together to create an obstacle course; then they had to lead the Shetland ponies around it safely.
The outcome? According to those involved, the children saw first-hand the benefit of teamwork, understood their place within that team and began to develop an understanding of non-verbal communication. Let's face it: Shetland ponies aren't the most enormous of beasts, but if one decides it's not going somewhere, it would take more than a group of adolescents to change its mind.
Why little pony?
As well as developing skills in teamwork, working with horses can build children's self-esteem, according to Nicola Hepburn, director of Equine Learning. They realise that they do have the ability to work with such a large animal and build a relationship with it. The children learn equine behaviour, body language, communication and sometimes riding.
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