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 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.


The Wey Valley Academy

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 alternative provision.

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 Alternative Provision at The Wey Valley Academy

RAC Saddle Club
Karls Story

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.”

We must congratulate Karl who was awarded The Pamela Almond Changing Lives through Horses Achieve Award at the The British Horse Society Annual Awards Ceremony at Newbury Racecourse in November 2021. The award is for showing exceptional growth and commitment to their personal development and was presented by BHS President Martin Clunes and in the presence of HRH Princess Anne.

RAC Saddle Club
Karl Jenkins
RAC Saddle CLub Karl BHS Award

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.

For more information please contact us:


Tel: 01929 403580

or download the BHS Changing Lives Through Horses referral form below.

30th December 2023DORSET HORSE RIDING INSTRUCTOR AWARDED THE BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL (BEM) FOR OUTSTANDING PUBLIC SERVICE TO YOUNG PEOPLE Stephanie Buchanan, yard manager and head riding coach at the RAC Saddle Club […] [...] Read more...
27th December 2023What a fantastic Autumn Term we have had with the children taking part in the BHS Changing Lives Through Horses Programme. The change in the children from Award 1 to […] [...] Read more...
27th December 2023Every week pupils from a local school come to RAC Saddle Club, Bovington to ride the ponies helped by amazing volunteers from the RDA. It is the highlight of their […] [...] Read more...
3rd July 2023Two local charities raised over £10,000 (£10,314) when they joined forces to raise money to support the wellbeing of young people in Dorset on Saturday in Swanage. Over 300 watched […] [...] Read more...
27th June 2023The RAC Saddle Club, a riding and BHS centre in Bovington, Dorset, was honoured to be picked to host a Lead-Up Youth Leadership Programme last week with BHS President Martin […] [...] Read more...
9th March 2023On Tuesday, 7 March 2023, ITV Meridian joined us for one of our weekly BHS Changing Lives Through Horses sessions (CLTH). ITV contacted the BHS and us as they wanted […] [...] Read more...
9th November 2022Steph has won a prestigious award and is shortlisted for another nationwide coaching accolade for her work supporting young people. Stephanie Buchanan, manager and chief coach at the RAC Saddle […] [...] Read more...
28th October 2022Congratulations to Stephanie Buchanan (Yard Manager & Senior Coach) for being nominated and is one of the finalists announced for the Change a Life Award (Supported by Sport England) Supported […] [...] Read more...
25th May 2022Congratulations to the students from Wey Valley Academy in Weymouth, who yesterday completed the first stage of their journey towards their British Horse Society Changing Lives Through Horses (CLTH) Programme.  […] [...] Read more...
16th December 2021The children from Wey Valley Academy are continuing to make so much progress with the BHS Changing Lives Through Horses Programme. This week they got to meet three-times Olympic medallist, […] [...] Read more...
27th November 2021By Richard Wright, Swanage News and posted on 27 November 2021 Pupils from The Swanage School were lucky enough to get to meet three-times Olympic medallist, the cyclist Victoria Pendleton […] [...] Read more...
9th November 2021Congratulations to Karl Jenkins was awarded The Pamela Almond Changing Lives through Horses Achieve Award at the The British Horse Society Annual Awards Ceremony at Newbury Racecourse in November 2021. […] [...] Read more...