Developing Skills through an Alternative Curriculum
Here at Aboyne Academy we have a group of 12 pupils who are working towards a certificate in Personal Development through Horsemanship. The group have been attending Horseback UK each Friday to develop their skills. Apart from learning to work with and understand horses, there are lots of team building exercises which help to develop a greater understanding of each other and also ourselves.
Initially on week one the aim was familiarisation, discovering the ethos and aims of Horseback UK and also meeting the staff and horses there. There was also an opportunity to learn how to correctly groom a horse.
Week two saw the group tying halters, leading their horse, learning about the colours of their coats and very importantly, building knowledge of interpersonal communication.
Week three with more confidence, the group began to learn more horsemanship skills which included training using signals and cues and they were also taught about the horses’ anatomy.
Week four was a continuation of improving skills including stable management.
In week five because horses are prey animals it was important to let them see that not every new thing will necessarily be harmful to them. To do this the group learned how to desensitise the horse. We also were shown how to spot the social structure within the herd.
During week 6 pupils learned how to ride the horses.
When asked how the trips to Horseback UK were enhancing their learning, one of the children described their experience.
“While at Horseback UK I have been encouraged to be patient and kind with others and the horses too. For the horse to trust me, I need to trust it and be consistent in my behaviour. Each time we visit we need to do “The Horseman’s Handshake” so the horses are not scared of you and can put their trust in you.”
In the New Year the pupils will develop skills further towards the certificate, finishing off with a three day camp on the nearby Glentanar estate. We will ride through the day and spend the night outdoors in hammocks.