Dr Ann Hemingway from BU’s School of Health and Social Care is working with Dr Rosie Meek from the University of Southampton to work with prisons to deliver TheHorseCourse, where horses are used to challenge offending behaviour.
The horses are trained to give clear and unbiased feedback on mental and emotional self control. Tasks are progressive and challenging, requiring the participants to remain calm and focused… or lose the plot!
Prisoners are coached to overcome frustration and failure by taking control over their thoughts and feelings. The horses provide both motivation and feedback, and reliably create positive change with even the most difficult individuals.
Initial findings are extremely positive, with participants showing results such as:
- better self control
- greater engagement with available education
- confidence as learners
- stronger focus on positive goals
The horsemanship goal of the 7 sessions is to gain Parelli Level 1 accreditation, the more important goal is to have the skills to lead constructive and satisfying lives.
One of the participants has commented: “”I’ve been on anger management courses, alcohol courses, things like that – this is much different, you’re learning it physical, not mental if you know what I mean. It’s helped me more, without a doubt. I don’t like talking. …Normally, with other courses you’re in a group of people… you have to talk about your issues and things like that, but here you get it out in a different way, you’re doing physical things not just talking. I’ve been doing that since I was 6 years of age and it’s never worked. I learnt a lot about myself. I can actually do things. I always say I can’t but I can.”