Cosgrove’s horses for therapeutic courses

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Children signed up to Cosgrove Care services are benefiting from a pioneering therapy using ponies to foster communication and learning skills.

The Giffnock charity provides support for adults and children from Glasgow and East Renfrewshire with learning disabilities and mental health issues — and its Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) programme, based at Dallars Riding School in Kilmarnock, is proving a favourite.

There, disabled children between eight and 16 are finding a rapport with ponies — focused on grooming and building a partnership, rather than riding — helpful in developing inner confidence.

Cosgrove’s EFL practitioner Jane Forrest told The Extra: “We identify to children the particular personalities of each pony. There might be the confident one, the bully, the shy pony.

“It helps the young people see ways of dealing with social differences in their own lives.”

Each child taking part maintains a journal, giving them a log of accomplishments to look back on.

Jane continued: “Horses are very social animals, and they often have a natural rapport with the children.

“Working with horses improves the self-esteem of the young people, their relationships with others and their communication skills.”

The first of its kind in Scotland, the EFL facility has been running since November with support from The Brownlie Charitable Trust, The National Lottery and The Brigadier Charitable Trust.

However, further funding is needed so that the service — offered for free — can continue beyond September.

To find out more about the project, call 620 2500 or visit