Changing Lives Through Horses

Changing Lives Through Horses
Supporting young people to achieve their potential

Young people with difficulties or disabilities regularly present themselves at the RAC Saddle Club, Bovington. Many are experiencing high levels of anxiety; some are disengaged from school and are often trapped in a downward spiral of behaviour which alienates them from the possibility of achievement.

In line with growing national recognition and understanding of Equine Facilitated Intervention, the RAC Saddle Club can offer appropriate provision to support young people aged between 11 - 25 years old, who are experiencing crisis situations.

Working alongside the local authority and commissioners, the RAC Saddle Club strives to support young people who are facing extraordinary challenges in their lives. We can offer suitable solutions for young people who are, for various reasons, unable to cope in a traditional educational setting. Through the provision of individualised programmes, we are able to provide young people with an opportunity to achieve planned outcomes, such as those set in an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP).

Interaction with, on and around, horses in a structured environment develops an acquisition of life and social skills in an experiential setting. Young people are able to develop an ability to control and channel their own behaviour and become more confident in communicating their thoughts and feelings, this enables them to more easily recognise the purpose of learning.

Our provision may be of particular interest to those working in CAMHS and SEND departments. If you wish to discuss ways in which the RAC Saddle Club facilities can help to meet the needs of disengaged or troubled young people in Dorset, please contact Stephanie Buchanan, Yard Manager, 07779 521433 or

The RAC Saddle Club - Changing Lives Through Horses - The Course

This course aims to help young people interact with horses and subsequently improve their mental wellbeing. Participants will typically be children, teenagers and young people that do not ride. The course will not involve ridden work and no previous experience with horses is necessary.

The aim is to teach the participants how to work with horses on the ground in a round pen, a stable, arena or field. Throughout the course, participants will become more aware of their emotions, learn how to control them and develop coping mechanisms. All of these newly developed skills can be transferred to real life situations and will enhance their relationships with other people.

RAC Saddle Club

RAC Saddle Club

As the lead for Alternative Provision at a large secondary school I have the privilege to work with a number of young people from all backgrounds.

Discovering The Changing Lives Course through horses has really allowed us to expand our provision to offer a course that is unique and powerful, especially for female students who often do not have as much choice in what is on offer for AP.

The feedback from the students so far has been outstanding, their attendance has increased, and they cannot wait for the course to come around again. We test self esteem and worth pre and post courses and these have improved. The students are excited about learning, feel valued and supported and are slowly building resilience. In addition, the older students have an opportunity to explore different careers options in equine studies. It really has been a brilliant course.”

Mark Salmon Head of AP The Wey Valley Academy

RAC Saddle Club

Karl left school at the age of 15 as he was struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. He found it difficult to find the confidence to leave the house which led to Karl feeling very isolated and alone.

Karl was introduced to Steph at RAC Saddle Club and the horses to see if it would help Karl. He soon realised that being around the horses he felt less anxious, and he gained the confidence to be more sociable.

Karl to signed up to the BHS Changing Lives Programme and he achieved all stages and has now gone on to take and pass his BHS Stage 1 in Care and Riding. Karl did all this with no stress, no anxiety and with a big smile on his face.

Karl also received the Pamela Almond Changing Lives Through Horses Achieve Award from The British Horse Society for showing exceptional commitment to his personal development.

The transformation has been amazing and in September 2020 Karl was invited to join the RAC Saddle Club team full time as an apprentice and he is a very valued member of the team to his colleagues and liveries.

Karl says, “Since being at the RAC Saddle Club I have had to put myself out there and talk to people that I don’t know and socialise with such amazing people! It has improved my confidence drastically and has focused my mind elsewhere as well as getting me out of the house and out of the sticky situation I was getting myself into.”

“The equestrian community has given me such a sense of belonging. With being given the opportunity to work and learn with and about these amazing animals is wonderful. I truly feel as though I can now achieve things and complete tasks regardless.”

“I feel brighter not just in my thoughts but as a person. RAC Saddle Club has given me a sense of belonging – it is like a second family, and I have so much pride in the horses and in the way I look after them.”

What’s involved?

The complete course covers the following sessions:

Meet & Greet with our horses - learn how our energy and actions affect horses and their behaviour.

Walk & Talk - learn to be a positive leader by grooming and walking with a horse.

Lead by Example - learn how to calm a horse that has become worried and support it to overcome its fears.

Groundwork - create a bond of trust and respect with the horse.

Fight or flight - develop an understanding of the fight or flight response and how to manage our natural reaction to stress.

The RAC Saddle Club is accredited by the British Horse Society and has instructors trained in the delivery of the Changing Lives through Horses programme. Horses are a powerful way of inspiring young people to reconnect with society.

When working with horses we discover natural talents and strengths we didn’t know we had.

Changing Lives through Horses is a BHS structured programme designed to improve the lives of disengaged people, using horses as the inspiration for change.

Equine Wellbeing Courses
Horses That Heal
Changing Lives Through Horses

Office: 01929 403580


RAC Saddle Club Changing Lives Through Horses
RAC Saddle Club Changing Lives Through Horses