See the HorseCourse video here
For additional information you can access the HorseCourse Brochure here
Listen to an interview with Harriet Laurie, founder of the HorseCourse and Dr Nick Kosky here
A Family Focus
The ReStart Course
Our main activity is the ReStart course, which is typically delivered over a 5 day week , approx 2 hour sessions but can be adapted depending on the needs of each participant and their families, 1-to-1 with a facilitator.
During the ReStart course we teach, rehearse and repeat key resilience skills in an intensive and challenging, but in a fun way, with feedback in-the-moment from specially trained horses. There is no discussion of the past. All sessions take place in action with the horses, there is no classroom content or talk-based therapy/counselling. Tasks are guided by the facilitator and the horses are selected and trained to provide especially clear and easily observed physical feedback to participants, many of whom may not have interacted with horses prior to taking part in the programme. The methodological focus is on social/emotional shifts being made ‘in the moment’, in response to difficulties encountered. Participants are unmounted handlers, learning to work in partnership with the horses on the ground. The course employs an approach using a series of specific tasks as tools to develop positive habits.
On the last day, each participant has a robust reflective session with their facilitator - looking at their progress in each of the areas of the Skills Star.
Upon successful completion of the course, participants are presented with a certificate and get a copy of our Skills Star to assist them with continued development, and a couple photos (if permission granted) to take home. If they have taken the opportunity to record a short film on the last session of some of the tasks with the horses learnt over the week, it will be put on a memory stick together with more photos and sent shortly after the end of the course.
Top-Ups and Lighter Touch Sessions
In order to meet our charitable objective and funding criteria, our 5 day ReStart is aimed at those hardest to reach where talking isn’t working. Please see our referral section below for more information on how we assess suitability.
However, in addition to the intensive ReStart we do offer Lighter Touch options for those who are not yet at the stage of being stuck or in crisis, for people wanting to see if this course is a good fit or for a younger person where 5 days would be too much.
Top-ups are sometimes offered to provide longer term support after a ReStart course if needed.
Both these sessions can be 1–2 hours, focusing on one or several Star Skills, tailored to people’s needs:
Tasters or Top ups for ReStart participants, 1-to-1 or in family groups
Highlight sessions, usually at a 3:1 ratio, we can accommodate groups of up to 12 people.
School groups to work on a single issue, eg assertiveness
Community groups or support services bringing a group for a taster session or to work on a single issue
Frontline worker and client for relationship-building
Please email or ring us to discuss options.
Our mission is to help socially excluded - or 'at risk of' - young people in our community when talking isn’t working. We work with kids, teenagers and young adults, typically from the ages of 5 to 24 (although not exclusively), who are extremely hard to engage. They are stuck - disengaged/shut down/aggressive/fight-flight - and the whole family is in crisis.
Our role - with the help of our four legged team - is to help them ReStart with a newfound set of skills and strategies for emotional thinking and wellbeing that continue to embed long after the course has finished.
We have been discovering the benefits of a more holistic family-orientated approach as a result of Covid-19, which meant all the parents/carers attended along with their children. We have seen, and believe, that if everyone in that young person’s circle of care is engaged and supportive with this process, the change can be truly amazing .
And for that reason, we now ask parents/carers to come along to the course and observe, and even take part in a couple of sessions (not necessarily horse based) during the week. In addition we ask parents to come along to the short, complimentary 2 hour Non Verbal Toolkit workshop to learn our proven strategies for recognising and shaping behaviour either before the ReStart course - especially if the date is a way off - or soon after.
Success is a journey, not a destination, and with everyone on board, our horses can be the catalyst for whole families to make great strides.
Men at Walk
Alongside our current activities aimed at children together with parents/carers struggling with mental health via professional referrals , we have launched our Men at Walk initiative. The tragic stats around male suicide mean that there's never been a more vital time for men to feel that they are supported and encourage them to open up about their feelings.
Our walks are aimed at men of all backgrounds and it is really an opportunity to join together for a simple stroll, meeting up at the stunning location of our Centre here in Dormansland, nestled amongst the Surrey Hills, in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Our aim is to offer a safe place in a naturally therapeutic environment, to walk, talk, gather seasonal treats for our much loved ponies, to take back for them to enjoy, and perhaps have a brew whilst watching them munch!
It is volunteer led, by local men and non therapists, who understand the challenges of mental/emotional burden of everyday life, and the feelings of isolation that can come with that.
The benefits of being in nature are well evidenced and we aim to create an activity and environment where men can chat about anything or nothing!
There are no charges and gloves and boots are available from the centre.
Please get in touch with us with no obligation if you are interested in becoming a volunteer lead or in joining a walk at email@example.com
Non Verbal Toolbox Training
Our NVT Training is a game-changer with difficult emotions or behaviours.
Talking is often ineffective when people shut down, zone out, become upset, disruptive or chaotic. We offer training in our specialism – reading body language and responding appropriately with non-verbal strategies to help people become calm and able to problem solve. Also for anyone (especially young people) to understand their own emotions better, in a non-medical way.
Our NVT Training is a practical and fun workshop-style module that can be delivered both on and off-site. Drawing upon our horse-based method this 2 hour workshop is aimed at front-line professionals and parents/carers or any business, group or individual wishing to enhance their skills in reading and responding to non-verbal communication. If the course is being run at Viewpoint Stables, there may be enough time for a short, horse-based taster at the end for a limited number of the group.
We will help you learn how to recognise 'early signs' and prevent yourself or others becoming:
disengaged or disruptive
wanting to run away
We will then teach you how to read body language and use non-verbal strategies to help yourself and others to become calm, connected and able to enjoy life to the full.
NB: Places are offered FOC for participants, parents/ families/ teachers & referral agencies although any donations are always very welcome to assist our continued operation!
Otherwise the cost is £25 per person.
Policy Change: From 1st March 2020 we have had to cap the number of free places on our NVT Training to 6.
Monitoring Progress & Outcomes
The HorseCourse Star
The star shows the main areas we work on - at the centre of the star people are stuck in behaviours which are unhelpful. As they progress, they move outwards towards the points of the star. The Star is used both as a teaching tool to help participants see the progress they have made and as an evaluation tool- assessed by referrers before and 2 months after the intervention.
The HorseCourse Observation Chart
TheHorseCourse Observation Chart was inspired by the Parelli Horsenality model; used by Dr Hemingway of Bournemouth University in a field study and now used as the primary case note tool.
Our Referral Process
Find out about the process for referring a client to Viewpoint Centre here.
We require completion of both our referrer and consent forms below: