TEAM work with SALUTE veterans, Princes Trust young people and the JUNO ponies

Extracts from the local newspaper article, describes the following HorseHeard project ‘TEAM work with SALUTE veterans, Princes Trust young people and the JUNO ponies’

Former soldiers struggling with emotional problems have become among the first in the country to be supported by a herd of horses. Veterans  took part in the pioneering project at a horse centre in the Burnley town, Lancashire.  Burnley being awarded for the most enterprising UK town in 2013.

The HorseHeard project saw the ex-Servicemen take on leadership tasks with the centres four horses in ground breaking “equine faciltated learning” sessions designed to help them address emotional issues.

The veterans from the SALUTE charity also worked alongside Princes Trust youngsters. The young people as part of their participation in a 12 week TEAM Leadership Programme (supported by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service) collectively chose to support this charitable organisation and project. The veterans and young people worked together to carry out a makeover of the arena, fencing and stables after thousands of pounds or materials were donated by Burnley businesses.

Aileen McBirney Hutchinsn of SALUTE said: “It has been amazing. Working with the horses helps them deal with their emotions. It has been  very positive and we think it will help improve veterans lives”.

Cath Birtwistle, owner of the JUNO ponies explained: “interacting with the horses at liberty (not on lead ropes) demands the same personal qualities that make for effective communication and leadership in work and life awareness, clarity, focus, intention, energy, empathy and influence. Horses provide instant, honest, accurate feedback moment by moment to how we are being around them – to our energy and behaviour”.

And the work continues…


At the last days celebration event with a bar-b-que provided by Tescos,

  • The veterans said the following:

    “empowering for me being around the ponies”

    “Slept better”

    “I felt emotional – I felt blood amazing”

    “Its been good to get dirty”

     “I came to do something – give back to the community”

    “Made me feel relaxed”

    “Calming – didn’t believe they could sense you but they can”

    “First time I have enjoyed being in the shit !

  • The young people said:

    “I can Lead – I can be a Leader”

    “This work with horses was the first time we worked as a team”

    “Helped me get more confidence because Flicker wanted the connection. I was sacred but until you try it you don’t know whether you need to be scared or not”

    “I cant believe it – it has been so good”

    “Felt really good about myself particularly when we finished the team task with the horses”

    “The first time I have not had to be woken up. I was dressed and ready to go and couldn’t wait to work around the ponies for the Princes Trust project”

    “The JUNO ponies gave me confidence to do anything”

    “Scared to death now I want to learn to ride”

    “Amazed – got cuddle from Flicker. Wow ! it has been emotional”

All the participants were invited back six weeks afterwards for a follow up session with the JUNO ponies and the chance to share any sustainable changes that had taken place for them, and to leave with a DVD of photographs taken during the week. One of the young people said that seeing the DVD altogether had given them a good ending and that it had enabled them to feel clearer about moving on.

This is what they had to say about the changes that had happened to them:

  • The veterans said:

    “So much calmer”

    “Managing myself so much better since being with the horses and stepping back more”

    “It has improved my communication, as by watching the horses and how they talked to each other has helped me watch how we all talk to each other”

    “Learnt how horses have emotions like people do and if we could learn to live more like horses the world would be a better place”

  • The young people said:

    “Horses well accepting – they just accept you as you are. More Ok about me”

    “Enrolled to go to College to do a Community Leadership course, because I found I was a leader through being with the horses”

    “Wouldn’t let horses be near me before but now have so much more confidence with everything”

    “It has made me want to do something and get on with my life”

    “Gained the confidence to go for an interview at Northern Racing College and start a career with horses”

    “Grateful to be pushed out of my comfort zone and now understand how important it is to have aspirations”.




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