‘Take the Leap’

Leadership, Employability, Awareness Programme

(developed by students for students)

Client group: Mainstream Year 10, 11 and Further Education Students

This two day programme was designed to work with Year 10 and 11 Secondary School pupils and 6th Form College students to develop life skills sought by employers and raise their aspirations. The Programme assists them with SMART goal setting and presents them with personal and group challenges to work with the horses. This enables them to demonstrate their self-awareness and increased confidence, with the potential to influence their examination results, interview and presentation skills and improve their success when applying for jobs.

The programme aims to:

  • Develop greater self-awareness and life skills
  • Attain a greater level of confidence and self-esteem in order to achieve personal goals
  • Raise awareness and experience of personal power and  self-management
  • Gain a greater understanding of the demands of the workplace and World of Work

Gain leadership and employability skills, such as team work and preparation for interviews.

Horses are herd animals and as such are strongly aware of the energy, intentions and non-verbal communication of others and also being prey animals they are constantly sensitive to their environment and those around them.  Horses respond without judgement, providing an instantaneous truthful reflection of how the young person is in a given moment. Trained facilitators use these qualities in the horses as a sounding board to encourage self-awareness, confidence and self-esteem in young people.

About half our students come from areas of social deprivation.  However many are also very bright, high achieving, amazing teenagers who come from a range of social and ethnic backgrounds. My dream was to raise the expectations of these students and show them that all types of people may become future leaders. I wanted to show them a world outside of the inner city and take them out of their comfort zones.

To achieve this we needed to get off site, into a very different environment and introduce them to horses. No student had any previous contact with horses. The course was mind blowing, the team from HorseHeard are spectacular and the coaching the students received was inspiring and life changing. Horses bring magic to teamwork and leadership development, offering experimental learning and a powerful source of feedback.” Allie Crewe, Media Teacher

The exercises set by the facilitators are simple and varied, the magic happens when the individual young person is with the horse and the horse mirrors back to them behaviours they are not even aware of. 

Xaverian College students went to Mobberley Riding School and took part in classroom activities before having a go at tasks in the arena with the horses.  They were coached one to one through leadership challenges working with the horse without a lead rope. Next was a team building exercise where they had to build an obstacle course to complete with their extra team mate Pudsey.  Not daunted by this, the students even popped a jump in, with the coaches on hand to encourage self-awareness and reflection.

A College Lecturer observing the course said, “By the end of the day, to see all the students plus Pudsey trotting around the arena together in harmony was magical”.


What they learnt about themselves throughout this process and what they took away:

“I’ve left with self-confidence”

“The skills I acquired like self-esteem, self-management, motivation, support – are all very important in working life”

 “I’ve learned a lot about teamwork, and about how important co-operation and communication is”

“Working with horses, the way we have to communicate with them and the way they help us think and the way they mirror our actions and behaviours and the way we apply that to our real lives, our real education and our future, our goals I think it’s really, really invaluable”

“If you ever got the opportunity to do this you should definitely, definitely give it a go”


I am proud of :

·       Learning to listen and managing my state

·       Speaking up around strangers although I find it really difficult

·       Being more confident all week – walking taller

·       Knowing I am the only person holding me back. Proud I can see that.

·       Thought I was a confident person but this course has built me up

·       I got frustrated with the pony and myself and then I persevered.

·       Recognising that ‘peoples’ perceptions of us are a reflection of what we project

What I have learned  :

·       To prioritise

·       The horse humbled me – I had to come to grips with that.

·       I need to help and guide others

·       Don’t retreat into my shell

·       Ideas don’t always go to plan, but if you stick at it you can do it

·       Identify the finish line –  think what the outcome I want to achieve is

·       I am a bit scared of horses so if it gets hard I will persevere

·       I tell myself stories in my head that are not helpful so I will no longer listen to those negative thoughts

The action I will take :

·       Keep trying for things even when I find them difficult – like applying for Uni

·       To ask for help as I need it

·       To get on with my college work and stop putting it off

·       I will organise myself to stop stuff getting on top of me

·       I will manage my state “cool it down”

·       I will make sure I step up for other people

·       When I meet new people I will use positive thoughts about myself

·       If it goes wrong ‘it’s not the end of the world’, so I will stop, be more positive – freedom to fail

A video of the College students describing their experience and the impact of the Take the LEAP programme can be seen here and on YouTube:


www.horseheard.com     Tel 0333  9390166     info@horseheard.com