Horseback UK’s Jock Hutchison on using horsemanship to help people at their lowest ebb regain self-esteem – and why dogs can’t do the same job, as told to Kate Johnson
I used to be a Royal Marines Commando. My wife, Emma, and I originally moved to our farm to breed horses, but I heard about 16 young men who had returned from Afghanistan with life-changing injuries, and felt they needed a purpose. We invited them to stay and taught them to ride, but we learnt that it was the ground-based work and forming a team with the horse that was more psychologically effective.
Horsemanship is the epitome of leadership because you don’t have a choice but to be a leader with a horse. It needs you to be a leader, it’s an anxious critter. People say, “Can’t you do this with dogs?” No. A dog will love you no matter what you do, a horse won’t. You need to make it feel secure, especially when it’s away from the herd. If that trust isn’t there, you’re building on sand.