Cob rescued in emaciated state now helping vulnerable young people

  • A 14.2hh black cob found starving and covered in rain scald is now helping vulnerable young people after making a full recovery at HorseWorld.

    Gunner, a Welsh Section D arrived at the charity’s centre near Bristol in March 2013 in an emaciated state.

    The three-year-old’s digestive system was under-developed and struggling due to prolonged malnutrition.

    Vets worked very hard to help the young cob return to a healthy weight, but it took weeks for the horse’s stomach to settle.

    After passing a veterinary assessment to confirm he was fit to start work, the groundwork began. At HorseWorld the young horses are left till they are four before being backed.

    “If they’ve been starved as a youngster they take a bit longer. Our ethos is if the horse is not happy we’ll leave them until they’re ready to be brought into work,” said Sarah Hollister, the yard manager.

    During the early schooling Gunner came up with a few soreness issues so was turned away to give him more time to mature.

    Once fully fit and healthy, he was backed and his temperament is proving so suited for the charity’s Discovery courses, that he’s going to stay there for ever.

    Gunner as he is now

    Gunner as he is now

    Started 1o years ago, the courses help vulnerable young people from aged five upwards who have social, emotional, mental health or learning needs.

    Young people from nearby Bristol, south Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset attend the six-week courses run during school term times.

    The courses are now registered as alternative learning provision with local authorities with children coming once a week for 1.5 hour sessions on the basic programme.

    Young people can also progress to take ASDAN and City and Guild qualifications at HorseWorld.

    Gunner joins Shetland ponies Bingo and Burdock and 17.1hh Irish Draught Barney, who at 18 years is one of the oldest of the 16 equines used for the courses.

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    On the basic course children progress from handling, to grooming, tacking up, long reining and riding over the six weeks.

    Riders are referred by schools, careers, youth workers, parents and other charities.

    All pay to come riding or are funded through the charity’s own fundraising schemes.

    “We’ve been doing this for 10 years and have never been busier. Children thrive in this alternative learning provision,” said Sharon Howell, the discovery course leader.

    “Horses are the best teachers. They ask for your clear, calm direction and the children respond to this in the same way. Self-esteem, confidence and communication skills improve as a result of being with the horses,” she added.

    The next course begins in September and is already fully booked.

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