Learners are ‘absolutely buzzing’ following innovative equine course

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Young people who are struggling at school are given the chance to learn new skills at an equestrian centre in Lancashire. The ASDAN accredited course they undertake has led to a transformation in many of the participants.

“All of the students have had problems of some sort,” said Mike Kidd, Managing Director of Mike Kidd HorsePower, an education, training and skills development organisation located at Wrea Green Equitation Centre, near Blackpool.

“They are usually from deprived backgrounds, have been in trouble at school or have even been excluded. Our job is to help engage them, teach them new skills and discipline and get them ready for life.”

Mike delivers Saddle Up, an art and equine course created in partnership between HorsePower and HeadStart Blackpool, an initiative supported by the Big Lottery Fund to build resilience in young people across Blackpool.

The courses has boosted learners'
confidence and improved their
organisational skills and timekeeping

Accredited through ASDAN’s Customised Accreditation, the course involves around eight learners at a time from Year 9 to 11 training at the centre one day a week for three months. Their day is split between art and doing tasks where they are buddied up with instructors, including mucking out stables, grooming and feeding horses, preparing the animals for riding lessons, and welcoming customers.

“The course was created to help young people who may be struggling with their emotional wellbeing,” said Mike. “The partnership uses a combined approach of equine and art therapy to encourage young people to develop personal skills. This has had a positive impact on anxiety, stress reduction and the learners’ ability to develop relationships.

“By the end of the course the learners are absolutely buzzing from the whole experience. They’ve learned to work as a team, deal with customers and respect others. The course boosts their confidence, teaches them discipline, timekeeping and the importance of being organised. Many parents have commented on the transformation of their children’s behaviour and attitude. It’s wonderful to see this progress.”

When the partnership set out to create Saddle Up five years ago, they were unsure how the course could be designed into a robust programme that recorded the skills and knowledge gained and that led to a certified outcome. The partnership worked with the local ASDAN regional relationship manager to develop the course.

“Our collaboration with ASDAN means the certificates the learners are awarded carry more weight since they come from a nationally recognised awarding body," said Mike. "The learners are thrilled to receive their certificates, which are evidence of their achievements and demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have developed. The learners put the programme on their CVs and use the certificate as part of college applications and at job interviews. ASDAN has been brilliant and getting our course accredited has been hugely beneficial.”

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