Eight NCC students jumped at the chance to enjoy a pioneering equine facilitated learning initiative held in conjunction with the charity HorseHeard.

The students, who are all part of the College’s Ambitions programme, attended a two day Leadership, Employability and Awareness Programme (LEAP) with HorseHeard held at HAPPA in Briercliffe.

Happa---Emily-Pilkington-with-JoeyNCC’s Ambitions programme started in September 2016 with the aim of developing the personal skills of Level 2 Vocational students. This includes improving confidence, communication and presentation skills so that when a student leaves the College with a qualification, they are also a more rounded individual ready for employment, training, or higher/further education.

The sessions with HorseHeard mirrored the College’s aims and were designed to help the students develop greater self-awareness and life skills, attain a greater level of confidence, and gain experience of self-management. They also helped students get a greater understanding of the demands of the workplace and gain invaluable leadership and employability skills, such as team work and interview preparation.

As well as a classroom aspect to the learning, the sessions also included practical work with HAPPA horses Joey, Ron, Gizmo and Blackie. This involved building confidence and trust between human and animal through senses and verbal and non-verbal communication and guiding the horse around HAPPA’s arena using complex and advanced manoeuvres, both individually and as a part of a team.

Annie Cassidy, 17, from Colne, who is studying Health and Social Care at NCC, said: “It was a great experience. Horses react to the way you think and feel. When I was happy and more focused, Joey did what I wanted him to do.

“The programme has helped me to learn to be more focused in my studies.”

Hairdressing student Emily Pilkington, 17, from Lower Darwen, added: “I said that I wanted to build up self-esteem and this has helped me do that. I’ve come out having really enjoyed it and I feel great about myself.”

Vocational programmes are aimed at students who already have their mind firmly fixed on a particular industry, such as Nursing, Forensic Science, Hairdressing or Engineering.

NCC’s Employer and Community Projects Manager Barbara Livesey said: “The Ambitions programme is entirely focused on developing our students personally so that alongside achieving top qualifications while hHappa---Kate-O'Neill-and-Olivia-Gregson-with-Ronere at NCC, they are fully prepared for their next steps when they progress from College.

“The feedback we have had from the eight students who completed the two sessions with Horsehead have been extremely positive. They thoroughly enjoyed working with Joey, Ron, Gizmo and Blackie, and they feel that the experience has been completely worthwhile.

“Thanks very much to Heather Hardy and her team at HorseHeard for delivering the programme for us and also to HAPPA for being able and willing to facilitate it.”

Heather Hardy, CEO of HorseHeard, said: “We were delighted to work with the students and see them blossom and develop their life skills during the course of the two day programme.

“Their interactions with the ponies helped them with self-belief and gave them the confidence to develop plans and strategies for the future.”

For more information about courses, enrichment, and life at NCC, go to www.nelson.ac.uk or contact 01282 440272.

You can find out more about the work HorseHeard does by visiting the charity’s website at www.horseheard.com or contact 07835 918644.