Bristol Boy Receives Confidence-boosting Horsemanship Course

Ashley meets the horse he will be working with on his 12 week programThe general expectation of a nine year old boy might be that of a child playing with friends, without a care in the world. He wouldn't know terms like stress and anxiety, never mind be suffering from them severely. However that has been the experience of Ashley from Bristol,  who has been facing significant challenges in his mental health and emotional wellbeing at such a young age.  His decline and withdrawing from school and society was so marked that he was nominated for a Primrose Award and a special Therapeutic Horsemanship course with local organisation Small Strides. The 12 week, Equine Assisted Learning and Activities (EAL&A) Programme has proven so successful with other participants, that the CiaO Foundation were only to happy to provide assistance. 

Ashley's difficulties became so extreme that he was referred to the pastoral support team in his school.  He was so withdrawn and described as one of the highest risk students they had. Suffering from high levels of anxiety in school, he would regularly walk out of class, refusing to engage with staff and piers or verbalize any of his issues. Ashley showed high levels of attention seeking behaviour leading to him falling behind in class and becoming socially unaware and isolated.   

Small Strides LogoCiaO Foundation Chair, Geoffrey Barber and Trustee, Graham Harrison presented Ashley with his Primrose Award at the Small Stride stables in South Bristol. His award is a 12 week program that will involve Ashley working closely with one of the horses at Small Strides, learning aspects of grooming, care, respect and space.  As well as reducing stress and anxiety levels, it has been shown, that the skills can transition into his everyday life, helping him develop his social and emotional interactions and his ability to bond with other human beings through forming a bond with the horse.  It is hoped that Ashley's mental and emotional well-being will greatly improve, increasing his confidence and build his self-esteem.  


Ashley receives his Primrose Award

“The benefits of attending the program will help Ashley form social bonds with the horses and empathy towards animals, increase confidence and self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety levels and allow him to express him-self in a safe, secure environment outside of school and home”

Karen Farrell – Lead Thrive Practitioner & Pastoral Support Worker

“Ashley can struggle with daily routines and by being with animals I believe that he could learn to talk more and control his emotions.”

Ashley's Mum