We have been enjoying some lovely weather recently on our mentoring programmes which has been great as it has meant we are able to get outside with the horses and go on walks, which in the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside really does mean your mind, body and soul are replenished.
I often get asked what sort of activities people do on the programme and how it benefits their life so here are a few things we have been up to this month.
At the start of April, our lovely horse Akua had some awful mud clumps under her belly where part of her saddle fits. If we left this mud there and continued to ride her, it would rub her and make her sore. As everyone loves to go out for a ride, we spent one session just bathing Akua and getting the clumps out of her hair to make her more comfortable; helping to develop empathy for others. It really gave us the opportunity to open up discussions about how the students felt by helping. They also got to identify when they might be uncomfortable (such as wearing in new shoes) and how this can be upsetting or painful.
Sticky is a chestnut pony that does a lot of leading work. Sticky has teeth with big gaps in and the grass gets stuck in the gaps when she is eating and this could cause gum disease, so she has to have her teeth brushed everyday to keep them healthy. We love getting the children to help out with this job as it teaches them very quickly how important it is to brush your teeth everyday (especially when they get a whiff of her smelly breath!!). Sticky only likes her teeth brushing sometimes, so we often work with her to help her understand what we are doing. We have to work out how to brush her teeth without causing her distress. This is a great opportunity for the students to come up with their own ideas of what might help her – and this helps parents, teachers and us as it means we can hear from the student’s perspective what they would find helpful if going through something similar. The support they are then offered at times of distress is much more appropriate to their needs.
There are so many activities like this that help our students and their parents and teachers open up and share experiences, I can’t wait to share more with you over the coming months!