“Horses are able to bring magic to young peoples' lives and relationship building tools to their existence…the investment in time and energy to help these hard-to-reach young people is a good one with a more predictable return than Wall Street.”
Terena Thomas, Pioneering Therapeutic Riding Instructor
With Horses CIC is a social enterprise. That means that we're not just interested in making money- each of our products offers a huge amount of social value too. Through training scholarships and therapeutic bursaries funded with the profits from every training course, curriculum or CPD service that our customers buy, we help some of the hardest to engage young people in the UK, including those who are NEET, in care, or living with the effects of trauma, disability or discrimination, to achieve their fullest potential. We give underserved young people a leg up into the horse industry and the opportunity to improve their life chances, whether that is by attending a fully funded therapeutic retreat where they gain confidence, communication and coping skills through interacting with horses or gaining professional training to begin a career with horses. At With Horses CIC, we champion lived experience, believing that those with lived experience of disability, discrimination and disadvantage have invaluable contributions to make to the equestrian industry. Listen to our founder, Lindsey Crosbie, talk about her own Lived Experience Leadership Journey in an excerpt from our recent webinar series:
Over the past year, we have given 17 fully funded scholarships to NEET young people, enabling them to gain accredited certificates in Equine Assisted Services, Ethical Horsemanship, Horse Care, Animal Care, Land-based Skills, Lived Experience Leadership and Peer Support. This year our trainees we have had a 98% pass rate. These all too often overlooked young people don't just gain qualifications - many go on to find paid work. Of this year's 17 training scholarship recipients, a quarter of have already gone on to either set up their own businesses or find paid work in the equine industry. Scholarship recipients included a fifteen-year-old, out of education for a year due to trauma in her family, who gained a certificate in Animal Care and returned successfully to school full time. Another, a single mother of two toddlers and a survivor of domestic violence, got a job as a riding instructor after completing our training. Two more recipients went on to set up their own businesses, one of whom now has a flourishing mobile complementary therapy practice.
Our monitoring shows that our participants see not only improvements in work skills but also in life and relationship skills, growing two or more points on average in confidence, communication, and coping skills on our 5-point self-assessment scale. The impact is holistic, encompassing all areas of participants’ lives and long-lasting, improving their life chances, equipping them with practical skills, changing their relationships and helping them to create a more positive future. We use a bespoke ‘Goal Poles’ monitoring tool to help participants set and measure progress towards SMART goals. We have also developed an interpersonal skills measure called the Cartwheel of change which is used alongside the Youth Star and Work Star tools (see https://www.outcomesstar.org.uk/using-the-star/see-the-stars/work-star/) and a questionnaire to establish a baseline and is then repeated quarterly to monitor progress. We also follow up with interviews at 6 monthly intervals. Scholarship recipients gain soft skills as well as practical, transferable work skills, enabling them to build better relationships and contribute more fully to their communities. This year’s outcomes show that 89% of participants have reported improved work skills, 74% improved life skills, and 68% improved health and wellbeing.
As well training scholarships, this year we have been able to offer 20 free therapeutic retreat bursaries via a Shackleton Foundation grant, enabling us to pilot pioneering Life and Work Skills and Peer Support Retreats (each for up to ten participants) free for young people who are on the cusp of leaving care and young women who are survivors of trauma. Next year, we aim to give one free place on every training course we run to a young person with lived experience of disadvantage. In the long term, we aim to generate enough profit to become totally self-funding. This will remove our reliance on grants and ensure that we can create lasting social benefit every year for young people who need it the most.
Professional Training Course Recipient
The scholarship program offers professional training and skills, in a relaxed, supportive and 'allowing' atmosphere, and being able to be around the horses is therapeutic in itself. Knowing that participants have different backgrounds and experiences, also makes it less intimidating. Having someone believe in me, when I wasn't really able to do so myself, made a huge difference in so many ways. Experiences and ' baggage' which I had seen as negative, a failure and something to be a bit ashamed of, now turned out to be something positive, even a strength. 18 months on... (I have) now actually started working towards having my own donkey EAT business!
Vocational Short Course Recipient
Growing up in care, I always thought that my background was something to be ashamed of. I'd never done well in school and didn't go to college because I was afraid to fail. I've always loved animals, though. My foster families often had pets and I found them easier to get along with than people. Last year I did an online Animal Care course paid for by With Horses CIC and gained an ASDAN certificate. I was so proud that I laminated it and put it on my wall! Next I did a Lived Experience Leadership course where Lindsey talked to us about how she had used her own life experiences to set up her With Horses CIC and helped us to find our own lived experience 'super-power'. Now I'm determined to set up my own dog-walking business.