Meet Carol: Equine Facilitated Learning


Carol oversees our Equine Facilitated Learning here at The Rosewood School, which has been successfully rolled out this academic year (21/22).


Hi Carol! Please could you tell us a little about yourself and your role at TRS?

I’m usually found in the classrooms at TRS on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, supporting our Staplehurst students. I teach Science, oversee extra-curricular clubs such as gardening and book clubs, co-ordinate the AQA unit awards (offered to our post-16 students), and provide TA support to our team of fabulous teaching staff.


What is Equine Facilitated Learning and why has it been introduced to the curriculum at TRS?


Equine Facilitated Learning involves working alongside horses within a safe, non-judgemental space, to create personal learning and insight, and to develop individual wellbeing.


The sessions comprise a series of ground exercises which follow a cycle of instruction, response and feedback. This enables communication with the horse in a way the horse understands through body language, intention and movement. 


Horses are herd animals, and they have a need to feel safe, seeking partnership and leadership. They are very sensitive to their surroundings and are very much in the moment. Through building a positive, trusting relationship where a horse will willingly follow instructions, the participant learns horsemanship skills, receiving instant feedback and gaining confidence though achieving the desired response.


Working in an environment so different to the traditional classroom gives each young person the opportunity to excel in a myriad of different ways. Being outdoors and learning from the horses gives the young people a sense of responsibility with rules that give clear purpose and consequences, all of which contribute to producing unique and rewarding connections, ultimately helping the young people to communicate effectively and build confidence and self-esteem.


Can you tell us a little about the horses?


Rio and Jamaica are 22-year-old twin mares (female horses). Twins are very unusual in horses due to the high risks to foals and mothers, so Jammy and Rio are quite rare. They have never been apart and don't like to be separated. They live at home with me and their best friends, Woody and Lily (the donkeys).


Both Jammy and Rio love a race along the beach, or a gallop through the forest - Jammy always wins, despite being the smaller of the two. Their favourite foods include extra strong mints, carrots, apples and marmite!


What are the benefits of EFL to pupils of TRS?


Winston Churchill once said: “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”


Spending time with horses has been proven to have huge benefits for wellbeing. Participating in EFL has shown that young people are supported to develop skills such as communication, self-control, problem solving and accountability, as well as improving self-esteem, confidence, and independence.  


Is EFL available to all pupils?


The EFL program at TRS is run on a 5-week cycle, with 12 students in small groups of 4 participating each week. The programme is offered on rotation, so pupils depending on attendance have the opportunity to take part in this activity!