Horses For Courses: Young people developing for young people

Students from Xaverian College in Manchester, supported by HorseHeard, have been developing a course for fellow students to develop Leadership and employability skills, this is their own review of that experience.


HorseHeard is a not for profit company who offer courses in “leadership, team building, problem solving and confidence building” skills. The unique element is that feedback is provided through interaction with a horse, yes that’s right – a horse!

The HorseHeard model is to develop emotional and social intelligence skills through experiential learning in interaction with horses.  As prey animals horses are unique in that they:

•             Are incredibly sensitive to their environment and those around them.

•             Pick up on our real intentions and non-verbal communication and respond honestly to that.

•             Provide a non-judgmental mirror to how we are being and behaving around them, moment by moment.

•             Demonstrate the impact of our thoughts, beliefs, internal dialogue and judgements on the people around us.


Xaverian students went out to Mobberley Riding School to participate in a seminar before having a go at tasks in the arena with Pudsey the horse.  They were coached one to one through leadership challenges working with the horse without a lead rope.  As none of the students had worked with a horse before and some had never even touched one, they were way out of their comfort zones.

Next was a team building exercise where they had to build an obstacle course to complete with Pudsey.  Not daunted by this the students even popped a jump in, with the coaches on hand to encourage self-awareness and reflection.

Media teacher Allie Crewe took the students on the course and said, “By the end of the day, to see all the students plus Pudsey trotting around the arena together in harmony was magical”.

The students are now designing a two day programme for fellow Xaverian students in the summer, which if successful will then be launched nationally.  A pretty amazing, if not unusual, project to have on a C.V.

Victor Olawuni, who attended the course said, “Being able to help pioneer a vision of leadership through this unique course has been a great opportunity.  It was a great confidence booster and an eye opener.  What I’ve learned in such a short space of time will go a long way in my future choices.  It might sound bizarre, but it was a really effective course.”

Nischal Joshi – Xaverian College.


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