Monday, 6 March 2017

Horsing Around Project

A Horsing Around Project volunteer with a Lluest pony
Previous posts on this blog have featured some of the innovative projects run by West Wales Action for Mental Health, including Tonic – surfing for mental health and Spirituality and Recovery in mental health.

This week our guest author is Marie Rocke, a Mental Health Development Worker at WWAMH. Recently Marie has been working very closely with an animal charity in the Brecon Beacons in Carmarthenshire called Lluest (“Haven” in Welsh). Lluest set up the Horsing Around Project with funding from the Big Lottery Fund and support from WWAMH. Marie tells us more about the project.


It is a well-known fact that Animal Assisted Therapy can support many people to gain confidence, become more self aware and to generally get more out of life. This kind of therapy, especially Equine Therapy, has proven its success repeatedly in supporting individuals on the road to Recovery.

Lluest Horse and Pony Trust, in collaboration with WWAMH, is offering 'Lluest’s Horsing Around Project' to provide Equine based learning for individuals living with mental health problems in Carmarthenshire. The courses are free for participants, and travel costs are covered by the project which is fully funded by the Big Lottery Fund. This is a pilot project incorporating training of staff from both organisations to allow them to collaboratively run future courses over the next few years to create a legacy.

The courses consist of horse care, so participants learn about grooming and mucking out and progress onto horse-watching to learn about body language and horse communication. There is then the opportunity to play games with the ponies, to improve the confidence of the attendee. Games include navigating around an obstacle course within the manège (the enclosed area where horses are trained) and end with games at liberty with the ponies. There is no riding at any point. The courses have been running very successfully for the past 12 months. The last day will run in March and is fully booked. Participants were accompanied by their Occupational Therapists or Community Psychiatrist Nurses in some cases.

Lluest is experienced in providing sessions on Horse and Pony Care and has been doing so for around three years. The staff are trained and well versed and many a young person has learnt what it really entails to keep a horse or pony – before they buy or loan an animal. This is all part of Lluest’s education drive to prevent horses and ponies being abandoned or neglected. We are hopeful that this work will continue at Lluest for the benefit of the attendees and the horses that they support.

What the WWAMH Director and Development Worker say

Lluest staff have had great success in providing training for individuals who wish to know more about Horse and Pony Care. They now wish to extend and offer this course to those individuals living with mental health problems who would normally not find this kind of training accessible for a number of reasons, be that confidence, finances or transport.

Many individuals living with mental health conditions find it hard to attend new and unfamiliar groups unless these are recommended by a trusted advisory service. Also, social isolation, lack of confidence and low self-esteem all inhibit these individuals from gaining valuable experiences, training and positive collaborations which would assist them in reaching their own personal goals.

Lluest wishes to overcome these barriers and believes that by working in collaboration with the West Wales Action for Mental Health, and by having access to the wide variety of groups currently supporting those with mental health problems, that these courses and educational horse and pony experiences, can be widely available to those who may benefit from them the most.

We are proud to be working with Lluest and hope to run many more courses collaboratively in the future.

Angie Darlington - Director of WWAMH
Marie Rocke - Mental Health Development Worker

If you require further information, or live in Carmarthenshire and wish to attend a Horsing Around Day, please contact Lluest on 01550 740661.


And if you live in Powys – do you think a similar project would work well here? Let us know in the comments box below.

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