In November 2008 Jock and Emma Hutchison moved with their young family to Ferrar just outside Aboyne in Aberdeenshire. Their plan was to set up a business using American Quarter Horses and western riding to explore the beautiful scenery of Royal Deeside. That Christmas several friends, many of whom were either serving or ex-military came to the farm to celebrate New Year. Having played around with the horses during the day and whilst sitting around the bonfire a comment was made.
“This is what the guys should do when they come back from War”. And so the seeds of HorseBack UK were sown.
As an ex-marine himself who had served at 45 Commando in Arbroath, Jock approached the current Commanding Officer. 2008 had been a particularly traumatic year for 45 Commando as in their recent tour of Afghanistan they had lost 9 of their own in combat with a further 16 suffering life-changing injuries. Jock and Emma offered the farm as somewhere that the injured marines could come to as a break away from clinical recovery and over the next 12 months had several groups come and visit the farm.
In 2009 HorseBack UK as it was now known gained charitable status with the aim of taking wounded servicemen and women and introducing them to horses. Through working with the horses amongst a like-minded group, service personnel who had been mentally and physically scarred could regain their confidence, dignity and especially in the case of amputees, mobility.
As the idea grew and developed the team realised that it was the relationship with the horses and the environment in which this was established was where the magic happened.
After several years of working with the military, HorseBack was approached by Banchory Academy to work with some of their pupils. The Charity had soon established its Schools Development Programme which has grown from strength to strength. The Community Programme was next with HorseBack working with the Aberdeenshire Councils Substance Misuse Department and Racing Welfare.
In 2022 HorseBack became a delivery partner with The Prince’s Trust and delivered its first Team Programme to 16-25 year olds within the local community. Throughout the pandemic the Charity worked on an online wellbeing programme running pilot schemes for NHS and Care Home Staff. Both of these programmes continue to grow along with our new community wellbeing for employability programme.
Now the Charity shares its time between these groups with a crossover whenever possible. Those who have completed the program return to assist in the delivery of other courses offering their support and experiences.