Born in Dunfermline Scotland in 1962 Jock’s schooling at Dollar Academy was unremarkable except for his love of horses and a year’s exchange to North Carolina at the age of sixteen, through the Rotary club of Dunfermline. This experience introduced Jock to western riding and working horses which profoundly affected the way he has worked with horses ever since.
After school and a traveling break Jock joined the Royal Marines as a Commando and a Commissioned Officer. Within the service he deployed all over the world until being selected to be a helicopter pilot which he then did for The Army, Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
After his military career Jock qualified as a commercial pilot and then went on to set up his own business in developing security strategies for blue chip clients which he ran for the next ten years.
In 2009 Jock co-founded the charity with his wife Emma and he has very much been the face of the organisation since. He is most happy working his horses and talking to people about the amazing healing qualities they have.
Emma has owned and worked with horses from a young age and has competed in dressage, show jumping and eventing. After leaving school, she worked in an eventing and hunt yard whilst studying to become an assistant riding instructor. Following college, extensive travel and working in London Emma joined Sussex Police as a constable where she served for 6 years.
Eighteen years ago Emma discovered western riding and the ethos behind this style of horsemanship. She also developed an interest in how horses can help people learn and subsequently improve aspects about themselves. This led to co-founding the Charity HorseBack UK with her husband Jock and the subsequent work with many different client groups.
Alongside others within the industry, Emma was more recently involved with the formation of the Human Equine Interaction Register which aims to bring together all people involved in the field of human equine interactions to ensure high quality service provision and create a greater awareness of their work.
As well as delivering the horsemanship side of the courses Emma is very much involved in all aspects of running the charity including designing the SQA qualification and the strategic growth of the organisation. She is a British Equestrian Federation Level 2 UKCC Coach in Western Riding.
Jay studied engineering before entering the British Forces joining the Royal Marines Commandos. He served for over 14 years and was medically discharged in late 2014 due to life changing injuries.
Jay has deployed on many operations globally and led men in some of the world’s most stressful and hazardous environments, including a tour of Northern Ireland and three tours of Afghanistan. During these tours he was injured twice, once by a suicide bomber and secondly by standing on an IED. Jay lost his left leg below knee, digits to his right hand, suffered extensive shrapnel wounds, lost his left eye and suffered significant facial disfigurement in which it took 11 operations to rebuild his facial features.
Deploying all over the world from desert, jungle, and mountainous areas to arctic regions on numerous occasions, Jay brings a wealth of knowledge of leadership, teaching, coaching and mentoring to any event. He has delivered motivational and inspirational talks to various leading oil and gas companies, charities, VIP’s, events, television, radio, business organisations and universities, as well as instructing and aiding in workshops for many of them all over the country.
Jay holds various certificates and awards in teaching, personal development, sports and recreation, assessing, coaching and mentoring and is also the first and most injured serviceman to conduct offshore oil and gas safety training as well as spending time on a platform in the North Sea.
Jay has worked for HorseBack UK since the beginning, having been seconded initially by the Royal Marines Commandos during his own recovery; he is now the Course Director within the organisation and a Royal Marines Support Network Officer for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
Taff was born in Pontypool, South Wales in 1962. After leaving school in 1978 he worked in a tinplate factory as a forklift operator and joined the Territorial Army in 1979. In 1983, in the midst of many industries collapsing in Wales, he was made redundant. His father advised him “go join the Army for 3 years, by the time you come home everything will be sorted”. He took his Dad’s advice, but went on to do much more than 3 years in the Army!
He first enlisted into the Regular Army in 1984 and deployed on several operational tours including the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland, Belize, Gulf War One, Kosovo, Iraq and with the UN. He attended Section Commanders’ and Platoon Sergeants’ Battle
Courses. His last appointment within the ranks was Regimental Sergeant Major. He was commissioned in 2005 and has held the appointments of Squadron Second in Command, Regimental Training Officer, Unit Welfare Officer, Administration Officer, Training Major and aQuartermaster. In April 2013 he retired from the Regular Army at the rank of Major.
On retirement he was offered one of the Company Commanders posts in Aberdeen Universities Officer Training Corps Reserve Army, and in 2015 took the post of Quartermaster, Full Time Reserve Service at Aberdeen & Tayforth Officer Training
In 2008 he was awarded a Commander in Chiefs Certificate of Meritorious Service for his work as a welfare officer.
At age 60 he retired from the military again (after 42 years, 3 months & 24 days service) and took up the post of ‘Prince’s Trust Team Programme Coordinator’ at HorseBack UK.
His interests are Military History in Northwest Europe 1939-45, collecting and consuming malt whisky, cycling, mountain biking, mountaineering and rugby.
Joanne has owned and been passionate about horses her entire life. She was brought up in Cornwall and was lucky enough to spend every evening after school riding her horse on the beautiful Cornish beaches. On leaving school she embarked on a round the world trip experiencing life in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Joanne managed the first Navy, Army, Air Force Financial Services Centre in Cornwall for 7 years where she met her husband Damian whilst he was serving in the Royal Navy at RNAS Culdrose. She then went on to become a Pharmaceutical Representative and a Dental Practice Manager before relocating to Scotland with her family in 2010.
She worked for Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership for 5 years before joining the HorseBack UK team where she has re-organised and given some well needed structure to the administrative systems within the Charity.
Sally-Anne is a multi award-winning fundraising and strategy professional and social entrepreneur. She has over 20 years experience providing strategic , funding and fundraising consultancy and operational support to charitable organisations, community interest companies and socially driven enterprises. Her experience covers all fundraising activities and income streams. Her specialist expertise lies in supporting organisations considering growth, scale up and Capital Appeals.
Tania was brought up in the Lambourn Valley. Her father, Gay Kindersley, was an amateur rider and then a trainer of National Hunt horses. She went on to read history at Oxford, and then became a full-time writer.
Tania has written six novels and then subsequently published a non-fiction namely ‘Backwards In High Heels’ and is currently working on one fiction and one non-fiction. Tania moved from London to Scotland in 1997 and discovered HorseBack UK in 2012. She is an extremely valued member of the team writing on a daily basis the facebook page and HorseBack UK blog which now has many followers.
Stuart is an Educational Psychologist who has worked in the North East of Scotland since 1993.
He has studied at the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Strathclyde and worked as a Primary School Teacher in Glasgow before entering the world of Educational Psychology.
Stuart has worked as an Educational Psychologist in several Scottish Local Authorities. From 1993 until 2018 he was Senior Educational Psychologist in South Aberdeenshire. Living locally he was aware of the work of HorseBack UK and in 2019 we were able to welcome him onto the team to offer support to all our course attendees, staff and volunteers.
Stuart is Chartered by the British Psychological society and Regulated by the Health Professional Council.
Kat Henderson was born and raised in the Scottish Borders. She worked abroad as a nurse in Australia before joining the Scottish liver transplant team based out of the Edinburgh Royal infirmary where she spent sixteen years covering Scotland and Northern Ireland for organ retrievals.
Despite the long and unpredictable hours working as a theatre nurse, Kat has always had a passion for the outdoors and fitness and was a champion adventure racer – Tough mudder, Total Warrior, Deerstalker, Mens Health Survival of the Fittest to name a few – as well as a keen motorcyclist and an extreme off-road mountain biker. She had a life changing mountain biking accident in France in 2019 which paralysed her from the waist down. After half a year in hospital, she started a new life in Innerleithen in 2020. She has had to overcome both physical and mental challenges as she continues to learn how to do everything all over again.
Despite lockdown, she has managed to live independently again and to bring up a young Cocker Spaniel, “Boost”. Never one to be stopped by physical barriers, when she is not with her family and friends she is most often found out on her Bowhead in the hills with her pup, showing what is possible.
Paul has recently retired from the Royal Marines, having served over 35 years. Most of his time was spent flying and managing military helicopters. He was a qualified flying instructor, and also spent 5 years at the UK’s Defence Academy, delivering Advanced Command training to cohorts of senior officers.
He holds an MA in Defence Studies from Kings’ College London and a diploma in Strategic Leadership and Management. For the last 7 years, he has been a volunteer at a care farm in Wiltshire, where he is currently Chair of Trustees. The farm is committed to supporting young men and women with autism.
Matt grew up in Suffolk on the East Coast of England. He enlisted in the British Army directly from school, initially attending the Army Apprentice College. At 18 Matt moved to live in Germany and from there took part in NATO peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. On return to the UK he volunteered to be assigned to the British Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Regiment as a communications specialist. After further training Matt began duties in Southeast England before deploying as part of High Threat Improvised Explosive Device Disposal teams to Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan, eventually progressing to become a specialist advisor in this field.
During the last of three deployments to Afghanistan, Matt undertook secondary duties as a Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) practitioner which involved the assessment and signposting of personnel involved in traumatic incidents. As a result of this experience working with people in the aftermath of severe trauma Matt decided to change paths and return to education, studying mental health at the University of the West of England. During this time he conducting elective programmes working with children on the autistic spectrum in Croatia, and people living with drug and alcohol dependency in Finish Lapland, before rounding off his study at a specialist NHS service for military veterans. After his undergraduate degree, Matt completed an MSc in psychology, during which he authored a report on Post Traumatic Growth in UK Armed Forces veterans (diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) who has attended an equine assisted learning programme.
Following engagement with Horseback UK as a military course attendee and peer mentor, Matt discovered a passion for working with horses and has been committed to learning about horsemanship and its positive impact on mental health ever since. He has visited South Africa to volunteer on project linking horses and conservation and can frequently be seen riding in the Cotswolds.
Born in Edinburgh in1970 Aidan Stephen started a world tour from the UAE, Oman, Cyprus, Germany and Australia as his father was a soldier. His mother was an Artist. On being expelled from School at 17 he went back to Australia and spent some time ranching before moving to New Mexico. He joined the Army in 1990.
After 17 years and four Operational tours he was medically discharged in 2007 with PTSD and Depression. After a three-year spell in various hospitals, including Bedlam he found support from a number of military charities.
During his service, he was attached to the Italian Army for some time and had completed a six month course riding 7 hours a day. With the help of Poppy Scotland, Veterans First Point, Combat stress and others he was introduced to Horseback UK. The reconnection with horses gave him the purpose to apply to Edinburgh College of Art. He completed his BA(Hons) in painting in 2019. He has subsequently exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy. He is currently an artist and public speaker on subjects surrounding Mental Health, Trauma and Art.
Gerard grew up in the South of England and from a young age, horses were a part of his life. Upon completing formal secondary education, Gerard studied traditional wet-film photography at Arts University.
Gerard was inspired to join the Royal Marines Commandos and to take on their values of Excellence, Integrity, Self-discipline and Humility, whilst maintaining the high levels of physical fitness required. Over time and being driven by a desire for greater performance, Gerard chose to test himself against one of the highest standards in the world and successfully passed the selection process to achieve the honour of serving with a UK Specialist Military Unit.
During his 10 years operating at the highest levels, for the UK Government, whilst first and foremostly being a passionate father, husband and friend, Gerard also became a skilled practitioner and sought further development to become a teacher, leader and mentor, both personally and professionally.
Upon leaving the military in 2021, Gerard’s purpose – to bring positive change to those in need – saw him connected with HBUK, where his experience of working with animals and helping others all over the world brought him into the team. Concurrently, Gerard also operates as an independent consultant and coach offering simple solutions to complex challenges.
Mitch was born in London 1965 living in care with various foster parents until his mid teens. At one of these foster placements he discovered his love of horses which gave him the bond that he had been lacking through his own family. This has never left him and he continues to build on his equine knowledge with a special interest in their therapeutic ability to aid healing.
He joined the Royal Marine Commandos at the age of 22, going on to spend a further decade as a member of the United Kingdom Special Forces, operating in hostile environments across the globe. During this period he learned the valuable skill of winning hearts and minds and displaying empathy to the local population rather than simply fighting them.
On completion of his military career Mitch set up his own business operating in the risk management sector, again working in predominantly hostile/high stress environments such as Iraq, Afghanistan and more recently Ukraine.
In more recent years he has become involved in the coaching of strength and conditioning to professional athletes, directly assisting these people in becoming the best version of themselves, mentally as well as physically. Coming from a special forces background Mitch understands the pressures placed on these individuals, the negative thoughts and self doubts that creep in and overwhelms. Mitch explains a feeling of privilege, being trusted with these individuals dreams and fears. He is able to use his own lived experiences to help others not only in their chosen professions but more importantly in their daily lives.
We do not rely on government funding so any donations will greatly assist with the running of our charity.