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Horses the right course for at-risk students

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Horses are nice and being around them is therapeutic for people with mental health and behavioural problems.

Equine Insight in Romsey Victoria has been running equine therapy courses to great effect and their activity has caught the attention of Central Ranges Local Learning and Employment Network industry engagement manager Lena Way.

She visited Equine Insight to undertake an equine therapy discovery session, with a view to promoting it to secondary schools as an alternative method to assist at-risk young people.

Equine Insight director Helen Shaw said that equine assisted learning, which is performed with a horse specialist and mental health professional, assists clients to address behavioural, emotional, spiritual and relational issues with the aid of horses.

“It’s not really the horses our clients learn about, rather they discover powerful things about themselves and those around them,” Shaw said.

“Clients learn about social and communication skills, respect, boundary setting, coping with and influencing change, improving relationships and building self-confidence.”

Central Ranges LLEN hopes to use equine assisted learning as part of its Project Ready initiative. Project Ready is aimed at Year 9 and 10 students and uses a mentoring approach to help students become ready for the workforce by igniting their passions and strengths, building self-worth and teaching employment skills.

“I never know where my job is going to take me, but today what I learnt is that alternative approaches such as equine therapy have a firm place in the way we approach the healing and development of young people,” Way said.

“During my interaction with the horses, several metaphorical situations arose which highlighted previously undiscovered aspects of my life. This is the benefit of working in a dynamic and non-confrontational environment with animals and a supportive, professional team.”

Project Ready starts in second term in a number of schools across the Macedon Ranges, Mitchell and Murrindindi shire areas.

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