CiaO Award recipient Connor on his Therapeutic Horsemanship Course

Connor’s Horsemanship CiaO Award

We are very lucky to have a strong collaborative connection with the organization that is Small Strides. You may remember them from Ashley’s story, a previous recipient we helped with a 12-week Therapeutic Horsemanship program that Small Strides provides. We are pleased to announce that we have partnered with them again to help more young people, including the presentation of a CiaO Award for the program to 8-year-old Connor who was in much need of help and support.

Connor has a lot of challenges, for such a young age, and has been struggling with them immensely. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyscalculia are just a few of the difficulties he has been facing. Combined, they leave him feeling very isolated, vulnerable and suffering from anxiety which can lead to major emotional outbursts and meltdowns most days. Some can last as long as 5 hours. The strain is taking a toll on his schooling, with him only able to attend part-time, and his home life where his siblings take to hiding during his outbursts. Sometimes things have been so bad that his parents have resorted to phoning 111 for help, being advised to contact 1st response who would then refer to social services. Though, currently, there is no help or support that can be offered to him.

The Small Strides Horsemanship program has already shown great results with other children with similar challenges as Connor. As a calming and responsible activity, he will learn about the horses and how to relate to them. This is a bond that will help reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve his mental and emotional well-being and build his confidence and self-esteem. It will also provide the opportunity for him to learn new, transferable skills and abilities that he can use in making more human connections in his every day social and emotional interactions. Connor has started his therapeutic course and you can see a few pictures here from his time working, learning and growing at the Small Strides Stables.


“Connor has a massive interest in animals and loves the outdoors, and therefore would truly benefit from this type of activity. He needs something to look forward to in his very uncertain, confusing, frustrating world."

Karen Farrell – Lead Thrive Practitioner & Pastoral Support Worker

“Even being introduced for the first time to the horses, it was very obvious how keen Connor was. Though, there was also a sensitive and emotional connection visible that we just know he will benefit so much from the course."

Jamie McGhee - Media Manager CiaO Foundation