Yorkshire riding school launches virtual pony club to empower children through accessible horsemanship
‘Think Like A Pony’ is offering an online experience after its in-person classes helped to change the lives of vulnerable children in Leeds.
The Bramhope club, which is targeted at children between the ages of nine and 14, is launching the UK’s first virtual platform dedicated to teaching children how to respectfully communicate with horses.
It aims to open up the world of equine therapy to more children via its digital model, after its in-person approach - launched in 2009 - changed the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in Leeds.
“It’s open to everyone, whether they ride their own pony, attend a riding school or even if they’ve never ridden a horse in their life,” explained founder Lynn Henry.
“We just want to make the holistic benefits of horsemanship accessible to everyone.”
The club focuses on helping children develop empathy through a respectful relationship with a pony, and learning transferable skills.
Students are also educated on how to understand ponies from a scientific perspective, and how to care for the animals through a curriculum of e-books, worksheets, and video lessons with online horsemanship instructors.
This approach is designed to encourage children to learn to build relationships based on respect for themselves, respect for others, and taking responsibility for their actions.
Ms Henry explained the coronavirus pandemic inspired the school to go online.
“We’ve been leading the way in equine therapy from our School in Leeds for over 10 years, and when Covid hit last year, we knew we could take our ethos to more people through an online club model,” she said.
While the club may have started in Yorkshire, Ms Henry plans to roll it out to riding schools and equine therapy centres across the world.
Think Like a Pony welcomes up to 160 pupils each week, with a team of 13 ponies and eight horsemanship instructors - all specialists in mentoring children.
The Club is now open for private membership.