A Primary School brought groups of junior aged pupils for a block of 6 weeks. They decided to operate a different system to the other schools, however, due to the number of pupils who they wanted to involve and transport costs. Therefore, they brought pupils in groups of 4 and brought different children each week. Some children they found enjoyed or benefitted more from the session and this has given the school vital feedback for any future projects. All pupils involved were on the school additional needs register for either learning or SEMH (social/emotional/mental health). The session, being on a Friday, was very much seen as a reward for good work / behaviour during the week.
Because different children attended each week, we were not able to build up a relationship with them or observe progression in ability or attitude. Therefore, it was not possible to observe them grow in confidence or build their self-esteem as they engaged in a something new and challenging. It was lovely, however, to observe how thrilled the pupils were to be taking part in an exciting activity. They all took part in a ride out and a grooming session. The experience was therefore more limited for this school. Because each week we had to fit hats to new children and show each child how to mount a pony the actual activity session was a little shorter. Generally, after the first week, pupils know what to do to and getting prepared is done more swiftly, allowing for more time to ride and take part in the activity. However, each session was still positively received and was beneficial, allowing for a great deal of enjoyment and a sense of achievement.
These pupils were always well behaved and arrived enthusiastic though a little nervous. They responded well to staff instructions and listened well, asking, and answering questions politely. All pupils mounted without fuss and soon relaxed once out on the ride. They especially enjoyed the therapeutic nature of the movement of the horse and the chance to spend time out in the quiet countryside. During the grooming activity, all pupils were confident enough to stroke and brush the pony. When one child was nervous their peers encouraged their involvement, which was lovely to observe. The pupils worked well together, sharing, and taking turns.
The school staff involved in these sessions were extremely complimentary on the experience their pupils had been given. They believed that each child had been proud of their achievement and involvement and had gone away with a positive attitude. The Head teacher is extremely supportive of our work and believes in the benefits of these sessions.