Horses That Heal

Horses That Heal

Course Information

Animals, such as horses, can help lift the spirits of any one of us, particularly those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, social withdrawal, anger management or low self-esteem.

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

Throughout the course, participants should become more aware of their own emotions, learning how to control them and ultimately be able to practice the learned coping mechanisms in real life situations.

All our trainers are qualified first aiders and are DBS checked. They are not psychologists; however, they are on hand to listen and ensure that participants work safely with the horses.

No formal qualifications will be awarded.

Session Content

SESSION ONE: Meet & Greet

For those who have not been up close to a horse, or handled one before, we will use a calm pony and will explain how to safely approach them. You will learn how to move around the pony, how to settle and connect with them and explore how our energy and actions affect their behaviour.

SESSION TWO: Walk & Talk and Lead by Example

Participants will lead the horses for a stroll and will be given an opportunity to groom. Participants will be encouraged to talk to the ponies and to listen to their body language. When leading the horse, participants will learn to be a positive leader, that the horse must walk by their shoulder and not in front of them. Leaders will have to maintain clear and positive energy, to think ahead, and remember that personal space and boundaries are to be maintained to establish trust and respect.

Participants will be required to lead a horse over and around obstacles in an arena. Trainers will enlighten the participants on how many of the 70 horses have had issues when they arrived and how these have been overcome.

They will learn that humans and horses don’t learn effectively when distracted or frightened. Moving a horse requires positive leadership.

SESSION THREE: Ground work in a round pen and ‘Fight or Flight’

Participants will be taught how to enter the round pen alone, unclip the horse and send the horse away to be loose in the pen. The participant will then have to create a bond of trust and respect in order to get the horse to accept them as the leader.

Participants will learn about the ’Fight or Flight’ response, how humans can compare to horses when stressed or frightened and will explore new ways of dealing with the body's natural reaction to stress.

DETAILS: Three x 2 ½ hour sessions, 0900—1130 hours.

LOCATION: RAC Saddle Club, Bovington, Dorset. Car parking is available on site.


ARRIVAL: Please aim to arrive at 0845 hours. On arrival at the venue, please check in at the yard office.

DEPARTURE: Each session will finish at 1130 hours. You are welcome to bring a packed lunch to enjoy at one of our picnic tables at the end of your session.

REFRESHMENTS: Tea / coffee and biscuits will be available.

SMOKING: No smoking is permitted on the RAC Saddle Club yard.

ESSENTIAL KIT: Hard hats will be provided. Participants must wear:

  • Long trousers
  • Trainers or boots
  • Warm waterproof coat