Working alongside horses is a journey of continuous learning; a path to learn invaluable life skills such as self-awareness, empathy, communication, problem-solving, decision-making and resilience, just to name a few. For some of us, including myself, it is a life long journey towards gaining a deeper understanding of the reciprocal relationship between horses and humans. My own experiences with horses began at a young age. I learned to ride at my local riding school and some years later started to work with the horses and clients there. I thoroughly enjoyed helping with the riding lessons and organising pony days. This influenced my decision to go to college and study childcare to begin my quest of becoming a primary school teacher.
From an early age I wanted to become a teacher as I decided that making a difference to the educational needs of this demographic was my vocation. I got myself a job in the local village primary school at the age of 17. I worked as a teaching assistant, supporting children in all year groups across the school and studied at college alongside this to gain my qualifications to get into higher education. My decision to enrol with a University and study for a degree in Education Studies was the obvious next step. Once I had achieved my First Class Honours and completed my degree I started my final PGCE year. When I qualified as a primary school teacher I juggled my job, caring for my horses and helping teaching riding at the stables.
After a few years of teaching full time, I felt I had more to offer to students that were not able to access the curriculum so I started to look into the idea of Equine Assisted Learning. In order to pursue this new venture I became a supply teacher which gave me the flexibility needed to train in this new field. During my time as a supply teacher, it became apparent that there was a need for some students to access other educational provision, as the high pressured school environment often becomes too much for some learners resulting in disruptive behaviours, lack of confidence, poor mental health and increased anxiety. I thoroughly enjoyed working in a variety of schools with different students and staff, and noticed the importance of building positive relationships with students to ensure they felt supported, leading to better academic outcomes.
After a considerable amount of time researching Equine Assisted Learning I decided to work towards achieving my Level 4 Certificate in Equine Assisted Learning; combining my love for horses with my commitment to supporting children and young people through their education. Whilst building my portfolio I witnessed first hand the positive impact that my horses made to learners that attended sessions. When I gained my qualification I setup my own company, EquiLearn.
Over the past few years I have worked with many children and young people that have their unique stories and journeys. They have all used their experience of Equine Assisted Learning to achieve their own personal goals. I strongly believe that creating a safe, nurturing and non-judgemental environment where learners are able to establish positive, open and supportive relationships promotes meaningful learning experiences that can be transferred into other life situations which is what we strive to achieve within our sessions.