An Equine Approach to Support

Think Like A Pony CIC provides a therapeutic service which empowers, inspires and educates young people through horsemanship. Through the Fairhurst Fund, their project continued to help young people using their service to recover from or stabilise their mental health condition.

  • In a nutshell, could you tell us what your Leeds Community Foundation funded project involves?

The funding helps us to support some of the most vulnerable children in our community. Many are children who have suffered multiple traumas and are at high risk of losing access to education, mental health breakdown and family breakdown.

Through learning to build a relationship with a horse children are empowered to take control of themselves in many ways. They do this by learning how to take control of their physical and mental state which enables them to develop control over their emotions. This in turn helps them to build stronger relationships, re-engage with learning and see a future for themselves.

  • Why is this kind of support so vital, what’s the need and what might be the situation if the support you offer didn’t exist?

Our courses act as an intervention when the children are at crisis point because no other form of therapy is having an impact.

There is nothing like building an honest relationship with a horse and riding empathetically to develop an understanding of yourself. This understanding helps children to develop a sense of calmness, confidence and control over their own future.

Without this they would continue to grow with a sense of inner turmoil. Unless they access adequate support, the young people we are working with are proven to be at risk of serious mental health problems that can lead to becoming medicated long-term, self-harm, depression and even suicide risk well into adulthood

By helping this very high risk group of young people to understand the impact they had on themselves when mentally, emotionally and physically in control, we can empower them to recover and thrive.

  • Could you share a rewarding moment you’ve had so far? Is there a particular story you could share from a beneficiary you’ve helped?

Here is an example of a young person support by the Foundation grant. This is a very representative example of the impact our work has: I am amazed at how powerful this has been for my daughter. She developed confidence through facing a new challenge successfully, but more than this she is better understanding herself and how to relate to people in a positive way

  • What made you apply for a Foundation grant, what difference has the funding from the Foundation made?

This funding has enabled us to provide a much needed life-line to children in crisis. Without the funding we would not have been able to offer these courses to children on our waiting list, some of whom had been waiting to engage in sessions for over 6 months. This was a period during which time they had become significantly more withdrawn and depressed, frustrated or unable to engage positively in education or relationships.

Because of the courses, we have been able to successfully empower and engage all of these children. As each young person steps outside of their comfort zone, they make a positive step forward to fulfilling their own potential. They begin to understand their capacity to manage anxieties and frustrations and build positive relationships. The effects of this on their wider lives and families is unquantifiable.