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Horses are helping prisoners stop reoffending — so says recent research from a charity.

The first results from TheHorseCourse — a charity that uses horses to rehabilitate violent prisoners — shows its methods are reducing reoffending.

The data showed a 27% point reduction against the predicated rate of reoffending of 63% among high-risk young offenders.

prisoner 2Since it was founded in 2010 by Harriet Laurie in Dorset, TheHorseCourse has worked with 70 prisoners.

“We’re using the principals of Parelli to train humans to be calmer, more capable and confident,” she said.

The latest research is based on the first batch of 25 former inmates released for a year or more.

“We were genuinely surprised at the results and hope they will hold as we role out the course around the country,” said Harriet.

The 48-page evidence review of the charity’s work was published by CLINKS and New Philanthropy Capital (NPC).

“The people we work with are those for whom nothing else is working,” said Harriet.

prisoner 1The horses live in the prisons for the duration of the courses. “We can only work in prisons with turnout but most have dead space between the two perimeter fences,” Harriet told H&H.

The course was piloted at Portland prison and has taken place inside HMP Portland, HMP Verne, HMP Oakwood and HMP Eastwood Park, a women’s prison.

Harriet has trained eight other licenced Parelli instructors and a student. She has six horses in Dorset with and the other instructors have at least two horses each.

“The prisoners do mainly groundwork, getting to Level 1 under the Parelli system within five days,” she said.

Pilots courses have been run with young people referred by schools, pupil referral units, children services, CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health services) with evaluation results expected later this year.

A parent and child pilot is about to start funded by Dorset County Council under the troubled families strategy.