For the first time ever, With Horses is offering a select number of people the chance to become certified in providing the Life Hack curriculum for NEET young people. This certification is not only for practicing equine assisted practitioners, but for anyone who has experience of working with people and horses. This curriculum is ideal in a riding school, RDA, care farm or rescue centre environment. It can be used by riding instructors, alternative education providers, groups for disabled riders or equine rescue organisations that utilise volunteers. If you are interested in attending the training, you can find out more here:
About The Life Hack Curriculum
The Life Hack Horsemanship course for NEET young people consists of 12, weekly two-hour sessions which include horsemanship lessons and horse care training. It is specifically designed to support the development of pro-social behaviours and delivers a comprehensive curriculum of animal care, life, work, and social skills. Each session consists of two parts:
1. Groundwork: Horsemanship sessions involving hands on practice for young people, arena demonstrations and review workshops that teach them gentle and appropriate horse handling skills. Learning how to safely and empathetically interact with horses and how to use proper body mechanics to effectively command a horse improves physical, cognitive and social abilities, enabling participants to transfer these abilities to other aspects of their life, such as a classroom environment and/or work situation. Each week’s lesson has a specific theme including:
· Positive attitude
· Managing emotions
2. Horse care lessons: Young people are taught a new skill each week, building on the learning from the previous week. Lessons are taught from a social or work skills perspective. For instance, to tack up the horse (saddling) requires planning and responsibility, as a person must know in advance what equipment is needed and what needs to be done with the equipment, position it in a specific order and check their work for safety and completeness. Lessons regularly provide an opportunity to learn how to handle problems, receive feedback, process instructions and come up with creative solutions.
It really works!
The Life Hack course has been used successfully for groups or individuals from a variety of backgrounds including young people with neurodiversities and disabilities. It was developed when it became clear that there was a gap in provision for NEET young adults to engage in meaningful volunteering opportunities so that they could gain work and social skills, re-enter education or find employment.
The Life Hack curriculum was first delivered in Gwynedd and Anglesey as a twelve-month pilot for older teenagers who needed more opportunity to practice their social skills in a safe environment. It worked with young people aged fifteen and above who were NEET and had a range of disabilities and mental health support needs, helping them to gain life and employability skills. Over the course of that project, all of the young people earned ASDAN accredited certificates in Peer Mentoring and Volunteering. Four young people found employment, one went back into education and five more continued with volunteering in their local communities.
The project went on to run for over five more years through grants and a contracted service with the local councils and schools. Monitoring and evaluation showed that 90% of participants reported increased confidence, 85% felt that their communication skills had improved and more than 75% experienced greater emotional resilience and an improved ability to solve problems. 8 out of 10 young offenders had their cases closed with Youth Justice and more than three quarters of those not in education, employment or training returned to school or found work within eight weeks.
Its creator, Lindsey Crosbie, is a trained equine assisted learning practitioner, a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International Therapeutic Riding Instructor, an Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association certified Equine Specialist and is trained in life coaching and person-centred planning. She has been supporting disadvantaged young people for almost 20 years and has delivered thousands of hours of equine-assisted interventions, including the social skills and job skills programs described above.
The Life Hack course encourages young people to take part in meaningful activity in the outdoors empowers them to connect with horses, learning transferable social skills that they then use in other areas of their lives. The curriculum and teaching strategies focus on helping students learn skills that are transferrable to their lives outside of a riding arena including how to:
• Plan ahead –think about task analysis, problem solving, planning for the future and being prepared for challenges that they will encounter.
• Be flexible and willing to adapt.
• Keep their mind on the task at hand.
• Be confident and engaged.
• Be aware of their environment and the feedback it provides.
• Accept correction and criticism constructively.
• Use horsemanship as an opportunity to socialise appropriately with peers, volunteers and facilitators.
• Understand how they learn best.
Want to deliver the Life Hack curriculum at your own centre?
Starting 25th September from 6-8pm and continuing every Monday evening over the course of 4 weeks, we will be offering a series of webinars with an accompanying online course. You can come to the webinar each week and learn from the qualified and experienced who developed the program including a board certified equine interaction professional, a qualified teacher and a disability and inclusivity specialist. In between trainings, we'll give you online assignments and activities to try at home with your own horses. Click here to register: