Emotional wellbeing, mindfulness and inclusion are at the heart of all of Greatwood’s AAI educational programmes. The Sir Peter O’Sullevan H.O.P.E™ programme focuses on encouraging increased self-esteem and development of confidence by challenging the perception of “success” and “failure” in a secure and nurturing environment.
The effectiveness of AAI has been proven, showing that it lowers blood pressure and heart rate, alleviates stress, and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. The implications of decreased emotional wellbeing are related to potential mental health concerns, therefore by ensuring that this is the primary focus of our programmes, we can help every individual realise his/her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.
Horses make the perfect vehicles for AAI because they can mirror and respond to human behaviour; in addition, it is not unusual for people to feel intimidated by the sheer size, presence and power of a horse – this is why horses can become effective metaphors for humans dealing with challenging life circumstances. Therapeutic horsemanship has many benefits and can help people from all kinds of backgrounds, including those that are usually hard to engage. The former racehorses that are cared for at Greatwood may have suffered neglect several years after their retirement from racing; often because they have been passed from owner to owner and have fallen into a downward spiral of neglect. Greatwood uses them as vehicles for teaching, with direct parallels being drawn between the experiences of these horses and the learners attending the courses. This is particularly pertinent to those young people who may have come from the care system and find it difficult to trust or respect others; as well as engaging in nurturing, caring relationships. In Wiltshire, 33.3% of care leavers are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training), compared with 13% of all young people in the UK (Wiltshire Uncovered Report 2014).
Horse Power is a life skills and emotional literacy programme, developed at Greatwood for young people with specific educational and learning needs. Students have the opportunity to develop social and communication skills and to increase their self-esteem through interaction with small animals and rescued ex-race horses. As an education centre we link the programmes to the National Curriculum and liaise closely with education services to ensure that our work is complementary to the students’ needs.
Delivered as an individual programme, based on the Horse Power© programme (as detailed above), but tailor-made to cater for individual learning needs. This programme is designed to assist in the transition back into main stream classroom education or from primary to secondary education. The course can be extended for as long as necessary in 6 week blocks and can be for two hours each session if required.
NOCN unit accreditation for Developing Confidence in Working with Animals - 3 credits towards a Level 1 Qualification in Skills for Employment, Training and Personal Development. Secondary aged students completing this course have the opportunity to build on their confidence whilst working with Thoroughbred horses and a variety of small animals. They will cover topics ranging from following health and safety rules, to understanding the natural behaviour of animals and how to recognise them. An Individual Learning Plan is also created for each learner in order to monitor the development of key transferrable skills, such as communication, working with others and managing emotions over the length of the programme.
Greatwood welcomes volunteers of ages 14 and upwards and we offer a volunteer training day for those who wish to work with our animals. Once candidates have completed our training day they are then free to offer their time to assist in the care of the animals and the general maintenance of the Greatwood facilities.
See Diary Dates for our next training day.
1st4Sport Entry Level 2 Award in ‘Assisting with Basic Care of Horses’
Aiming to help combat the rise in unemployment amongst young adults, this innovative programme’s objectives are to provide students with a nationally recognised accredited qualification in basic horse care (5 credits). This will enable them to progress further in the equine industry or put them onto the path to further learning and will develop key workplace skills such as motivation and confidence. This course is aimed at 16 – 24 year olds. Learners in year 11 may be eligible for our Get Going Programme.
1st4Sport Entry L3 Award in ‘Recognising, Putting on and Cleaning Saddle and Bridle’.
Designed for those learners that would like to progress to work within the racing industry, this programme provides learners with an insight into the tack used in racing and how it is cared for. The programme includes classroom activities alongside lots of practical work with the ex- racehorses at Greatwood. The qualification is valued at 6 credits that are nationally recognised.
1st4Sport accredited Level 2 Award in ‘Assisting with the Rehabilitation of Horses’.
Greatwood is the first provider in the UK to deliver the Level 2 Award in Assisting with the Rehabilitation of Horses. This innovative programme’s objectives are to provide students with a nationally recognised accredited qualification in horse rehabilitation which will enable them to progress further in the equine industry or put them onto the path to further learning and will develop transferrable equine workplace skills. Experience with equines is required to join this programme and we have a flexible approach to learning to allow those who are currently working with horses to benefit from the programme.
What is H.O.P.E™?
During 2018 and 2019 Greatwood is piloting a series of new pioneering Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) programmes for children and young people as well as adults. The inclusive, interactive and learner focused environment is used as a vehicle for self-development and progression. Our Thoroughbred former racehorses and other animals, combined with the sensory and vegetable gardens, allow us to work together to support a wide range of personalised targets. For some people, this means looking to improve self-esteem, mental wellbeing and communication skills. For others, it can mean working towards qualifications that may lead to career transition, and will ultimately give them a strengthened belief in a more positive future.
H.O.P.E™ is centred around the Five Ways To Wellbeing principle:
What will You be doing?
You will be offered the opportunity to work with our range of animals, including the former racehorses for which Greatwood is known.
For some, the enforced lockdown has meant limited access to outside space, little engagement with other people outside their family unit, and quite possibly the pressure of lost income and the subsequent worries of how they will survive in the future. With mindfulness at their core, these days at Greatwood allow for time to step back from the constant 'doing' mode and embrace just 'being' in the moment, with opportunities to take in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, connect with nature in our woodland and of course spend time with our resident former-racehorses and other small animals such as Shetland ponies, goats and chickens, without worrying about what has been and what will be.
Greatwood is able to offer Functional Maths and English in a contextualised environment. Entry Level to Level 2 initial assessment, diagnostics, and learning resources with qualified tutors to improve essential knowledge in weak areas to enable learners to improve these work related skills and achieve exams in Functional Skills at the required level.