With the success of the first five years of courses for military personnel HorseBack extended its remit and is now able to focus on the wider community. Working alongside Aberdeenshire Council we have now developed several programmes to fulfil the needs within our local community and can offer many different opportunities.
Mental wellbeing is maintaining a positive mindset and managing stress effectively. By engaging in new and exciting activities that bring joy and fulfilment, you can grow as an individual, develop personally and prepare to re-enter the world of work.
This blended Scottish Qualification Authority accredited programme includes a week spent at our centre in Aboyne.
Based on our farm and using horses, the course sits within a personal development and employability remit.
Exploring and Improving Wellbeing
This programme takes place over three months with initial online input, a non-residential week at HorseBack UK and further online follow up and support.
Activities whilst at HorseBack Include:
Horsemanship – drawing simple but effective parallels with human behaviours
Archery – improving focus and concentration using calming techniques
Bushcraft – connecting with the outdoors and appreciating the positive benefits
Pilates – promotes mindfulness, body awareness and physical health
Breathing Exercises – decreases stress and anxiety and increases energy
Team Building – increases communication and confidence
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – helps develop new coping skills and manage emotions
Life after HorseBack
Beyond the courses, HorseBack UK provides the opportunity to return as a volunteer and take on a variety of jobs, from working with the horses and new course participants to building, painting and fencing plus various fundraising activities. This reaffirms the feeling of empowerment, being part of a team and develops vital new skills.
“It changed my life. It’s given me a new lease of life. I wish I’d done it 3 or 4 years ago. Before I came I was isolated. I didn’t know where to turn for help. I had really bad problems. I’d tried to kill myself. Pills, doctors, counsellors can only help so much. They stop you from killing yourself, but they don’t make you better. I didn’t think I had a future. But it [Horseback UK] is a unique, special place. It opened my mind. It’s been great to meet new people, especially racing people.
We’ve had fun and really bonded, sharing our problems and experiences. I’ve had the chance to spend time with horses and rekindle my love for horses. It’s made me more positive and given me the strength to think about the future. And Racing Welfare is now helping me take my plans forward for the future.
I’m riding out again, and I’ve enrolled on a course. I might get some more counselling. My main aim is to re-train and get back to work. I’d also like to go back to Horseback and be a mentor. I think I have experiences that can help people.”
(Racing Welfare Beneficiary)
“The hardest part of my horseback experience was to turn up! On the first night I was greeted by the warmest of mentors who introduced me to my colleagues on the course.
From the first day you will feel part of a family. Once at the farm it felt instantly calm and inviting. There are not only horses but dogs, cats , sheep and chickens (fresh eggs for breakfast!) The very talented horseback team are so respectful of everyone’s needs and as a team value each other’s input too.
Riding a horse is not your only goal or even necessary, the horses respond to your body language. They too have a personal journey to become part of the horseback family. It is at times what I can only describe as magical.
When I groomed the horses or rode I completely forgot my pain. Our team bonded so well and I feel I climbed a mountain and came over the top empowered by my experiences. We also did photography, archery and conservation. The area is such a beautiful location.
Once home I was happily exhausted and I think I drove my family insane talking about nothing but the experiences and friendships I had gained. We all stay in touch till our next week together in March.
Even if horses are not your thing , I believe everyone should experience horseback UK, it’s life changing.”