Clare Balding discovers how the horse's peaceful nature can help with mental, physical and social problems in urban settings.
Clare Balding visits contrasting stables in Brixton and Edgware, North London to see how horses are being used to help people with mental and physical health problems. Can equine therapy offer hope to young people affected by gang violence and addiction?
The Ebony Horse club in Brixton, under the railway arches and tower blocks of in Coldharbour Lane, is located in one of the most socially challenged and economically deprived areas of London. Each day the horses here are ridden by local young people and the impact the stables has had on these children and the area is dramatic. These are not the pony club member stereotypes many envisage. They also work with those with specific problems - ex gang members, addicts, children with learning difficulties. Ebony offers an alternative to the lives they may have experienced. This connection with horses has transformed many lives.
In High Barnet, Clare visits Dr Jemma Hockley, founder of Strength and Learning Through Horses. A qualified clinical psychologist, Jemma uses equine therapy to help young people with a variety of mental health and social problems. Jemma doesn't teach her clients to ride, but helps them learn by contact with the horses on the ground. She has seen tremendous results, especially in young, socially disenfranchised young men. She has also taken horses into prisons and is about to begin a partnership with Help for Heroes, to help military veterans with injuries and PTSD. Clare meets clients and therapists and sees young people learning with horses at first hand.
Could horses, as Dr Jemma Hockley believes, help humans who have failed to help each other?
Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.
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