A CHARITY which uses horses to help young people is looking for sponsors for its first pony.
The Stable Life Project, which is run by Galashiels-based Giving Young People (GYP) Borders, works with ponies in riding establishments around the region.
But now, thanks to a legacy from a local family, the project is hoping to buy its own equine to help vulnerable young people.
Team leader Nicola Glendinning explained: “We work with young people using the horse and environment as a tool to help them develop a sense of self and learn transferable life skills. It’s a safe place where they can look at some of the things that may be going on in their lives. It’s a very person-centred approach and led by them.”
The 15-year-old former family pony is being assessed at Broomhill Farm Equestrian Centre, Selkirk, this week.
The 14hh Highland pony named Errol came from near Blainslie and has had laminitis so will need careful care, said Mrs Glendinning.
“We wanted to see he fitted into the place and that his temperament was right for the young people. We need to make sure he is the right pony – he needs to have a very special temperament,” said Mrs Glendinning, adding: “All the ponies we use are very well matched – a lot are really quiet, they need to be really honest and give a bit back as well.”
The 10 to 18-year-olds go for three-hour sessions when they are taught how to ride and care for a pony at one of three riding centres – Dryden and Broomhill, both near Selkirk, and Nenthorn near Kelso.
Mrs Glendinning told us: “Some of the kids might be shut down to human contact. Working with the ponies allows them to feel needed, and helps with their self esteem and confidence. Stable Life is something that can change lives and we want it to continue.”
Earlier in the year, the project, which has been running for five years, won Big Lottery funding for two years for a pilot project working with young people with mental health problems. Lloyds TSB awarded the project funding for three years to work with young people affected by parental substance misuse.
“These awards, along with Children In Need and other smaller donations we have received, mean that Stable Life is on a more secure financial footing for the next three years, which is great news,” said Mrs Glendinning at the time.
Now the project is hoping people will want to donate money to help look after Errol, whose trial period ends this week and who will need remedial shoeing and a special diet, as well as tack.
Mrs Glendinning said: “Errol is a lovely pony, he will give that unconditional love and the young people will see him as a project to help him become healthy and happy.”
Nearly two-thirds of all young people attending Stable Life experience a 60-80 per cent improvement in their confidence, self-esteem and social skills; 79 per cent have improved relationships with their families and peers; and 83 per cent have improved behaviour and/or attitude, says the project.
The project has helped 155 young people and their families in the last year.
“Stable Life works because it’s real. It gives a young person a belief in themselves and they feel needed and included in this environment,” said Mrs Glendinning. “The horses don’t judge the young person, they start off on an even footing with the pony.
“They can see if they approach a horse aggressively, the horse will back off – they learn how they behave will have impact on the animal.”
For further information or anyone wanting to donate towards Errol’s care should contact Mrs Glendinning or Mags Powell, business development manager, at GYP in Galashiels on 01896 754 613 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org