*names changed for confidentiality*
When Zainab started attending a Learning Through Horses programme in 2018 she was excluded from education and struggling to manage her temper and form relationships with others.
To begin with Zainab pushed everyone away, she refused to engage with the horses, wouldn’t talk to staff and had a lot of arguments with the other young people on the course. This went on for three weeks.
In the fourth week Zainab went into the field to catch Thomas our largest horse. Thomas has a lot of trust issues due to past trauma and he wouldn’t let Zainab anywhere near him. Zainab lost her temper and started to shout and scream uncontrollably which caused Thomas to run faster and faster.
Even though it was pouring with rain Zainab stayed and worked with Thomas helping him to let go of his fear. After 45 minutes of patiently working with Thomas he finally let go of his fear, allowing Zainab to approach and stroke him. Then something amazing happened – he followed her to the gate without the aid of a rope, choosing to trust her and be with her instead of the other horses despite his own entrenched trust issues.
After this moment Zainab’s behaviour changed for the better. She consistdently engaged at the stables with enthusiasm, she learnt about the impact of her behaviours on others and demonstrated incredible empathy towards the horses and other young people. Over time her outbursts of anger disappeared and she told us “that she finally felt happy”. Zainab is now at college undertaking professional qualifications in horse care and doing really well.
After some time Zainab stopped focusing on her own anger and started focusing on Thomas obvious fear. She stopped screaming and was able to listen to the staff member, who taught her how to use her body language and energy to work with the horse in a calm way. Her anger resided as she learnt to focus on the needs of the horse.