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The Princess Royal meets youths and horses who have helped each other

The Princess Royal has met young people and rescue horses whose lives have been changed through a charity project.

British Horse Society (BHS) vice-patron Princess Anne visited Parbold Equestrian Centre, Wigan, on Thursday (23 January) to meet young people enrolled in the society’s Changing Lives through Horses (CLtH) scheme. As part of a new partnership with the RSPCA, Parbold is one of the first BHS centres to rehome three rescue horses, Slinky, Trooper, and Bungle, who will work with young people on the programme.

A BHS spokesman said the scheme is delivered by specially trained accredited coaches and aims to “reignite a desire to learn” in people aged between 10 and 24 who are at risk of not being in education, employment, or training.

“The scheme encourages them to reconnect with society while working alongside horses as the participants are often suited to an alternative education environment for a range of complex reasons,” he said.

“The two charities decided to come together as equine rehoming centres are becoming full and the number of horses subject to neglect is at an all-time high. By placing these horses into CLtH centres, they can be rehabilitated alongside the young people who are on the scheme.”

BHS director of fundraising Tracy Casstles said the society was delighted Princess Anne had been able to witness the “wonderful bond” developing between the young people and the rescue horses.

“Her Royal Highness has dedicated so much of her time to the equestrian industry and with Parbold being one of the first centres to launch the CLtH scheme in 2017, it feels extra special for all those involved,” she said.

Parbold proprietor Stephen Bennett said: “It is an honour and privilege to host Her Royal Highness. Our team works hard to rehabilitate rescue horses from the RSPCA who in turn teach the vulnerable children and adults to develop empathy and regulate emotional and physical behaviour.”

The spokesman added many of the young people on the programme had been referred by their schools, local authorities or the police.

“It is often their last opportunity to develop their skills in order to return to education and/or employment,” he said.

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“The difficult backgrounds experienced by many of the participants makes them particularly able to relate to the horses they are working with.”

Gareth Johnson, RSPCA equine welfare operations manager, said the programme was “undoubtedly” one of the best schemes he had been involved with in rehoming rescue horses.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for young people and horses to come together and interact. The RSPCA has more than 800 horses in our care at present; we hope that this collaboration will help to alleviate this problem.”

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