Hold your horses! Horse care leads youth to empathy & understanding

Last month the NCNS Youth Workers, Sami Thoms and Joe Benchoam launched their new after-school Horse Care Program with a small group of 8 students, beginning with an orientation day where all participants could get to know each other and the horses they would be working with.

The aim of the program is to give participants hands on experience with animals, while at the same time encouraging skills around empathy and understanding body language.

We are now mid-way through the program and NCNS Youth Worker, Joe Benchoam commented, “It has been an exciting and surprising journey so far!”

The young people have been learning a lot about horse behaviours gaining insight on how to understand and recognise how a horse is feeling  and the importance of trust between human and horse. All of the young people have been extremely supportive of one another, working together and getting a range of jobs done from the not so glamourous, cleaning up horse poo, weeding to cleaning horse grooming kits.

Joe explained, “ It really surprised me to see how each participant invested themselves into completing these jobs.”

An exciting part of the program for all of the young people has been learning how to lead a horse, and last week they learnt about dominance behaviour. They learnt that horses have a regime in place in the paddock, for example, if you are feeding a horse, one horse will move forward using dominant body language, with their ears backwards and can push other horses out of the way. The other horses will stay back and wait for their turn to eat the food.

There have been some beautiful moments where the participants have connected with the horses, displaying the ability to empathise with Wendy, our wonderful facilitator.

Joe expressed, “ It has been such an awesome experience so far, for Sami and I. Getting to know these incredible young people has been amazing and we have both enjoyed learning new skills alongside the young people who are participating in the program.

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