British Horse Society: horses helping troubled teens

Liam found new purpose working with horses

Liam found new purpose working with horses - Credit: bhs

A new initiative that pairs troubled teens with horses is helping young people get back on track. The British Horse Society explains how Changing Lives through Horses works

Animals can play a huge part in our lives, whether you are a cat, dog, horse or any other kind of animal person. Just like relationships between humans, our interaction with animals can shape who we are, cheer us up when we’re feeling down, and be there for us when no-one else is.

Changing Lives through Horses, a new initiative launched by the British Horse Society, demonstrates the special relationship between humans and horses. It is designed to support disadvantaged and disengaged young people into employment, education or training.

For most of the young people who go through the programme, Changing Lives through Horses is their last resort. Working with and caring for horses often has a remarkable impact on their lives when other methods of engagement have proved unsuccessful.

Running at launch centres across the country, it gives pupils the opportunity to develop vital skills that they will need in later life and employment. The equestrian environment is often perfect for young people who struggle in a traditional learning environment. It provides them with the flexibility they need, but also a natural discipline that can be translated into everyday life activities.

Liam is one of the young people who has been through the Changing Lives through Horses programme. He lived across the road from his school, but didn’t like it so he didn’t attend. He was getting into trouble with the police, and admits that he ‘wasn’t a nice person to be around’. He was offered the opportunity to join the Changing Lives programme and get back into education.

In order to get to the yard for 9am each morning, Liam had to catch three different busses and walk three miles across fields. He still made it on time each morning. It wasn’t long before he felt at home in the yard and developed skills that he wouldn’t have been able to learn at school. He has now set his mind on a career working with horses.

Most Read

‘By letting me do this course, it has been the best thing that has ever happened to me,’ Liam said. ‘I don’t know where I’d be without it – probably in prison or something. You’ve not made my life, you’ve saved my life.’

There are children like Liam up and down the country who desperately need help and support to get back on track. It’s estimated that among 16-18-year-olds, nearly one in 10 is classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training). It is hoped that programmes such as Changing Lives through Horses will help to reduce this number. w

The British Horse Society aims to roll out the scheme to more approved centres across the country in order to help more young people like Liam. However, the scheme relies solely on donations. It costs on average £46 a day to enable a young person to access the programme. If you would like to donate and help change a young person’s life, please visit or @BHS_CLTH. Or text ‘CLTH65 £5’ to 70070.