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Clare Smith – Director & Lead Facilitator
Equine Facilitated Learning has always been of particular interest to me and it is through Hooves in Harmony that I am able to combine my previous knowledge and experience to date. I have been around horses since an early age and they have played a huge part in my life ever since. Upon leaving school I studied at Warwickshire College gaining a BA(Hons) in Equine Studies. An industrial placement year formed a major part of my degree and I spent a year working at a specialist Riding for the Disabled (RDA) facility that was home to a number of RDA groups in addition to providing holidays for RDA groups from across the country. It was here that I really began to see and understand first-hand how just being around horses can have such a huge positive effect on people. On completion of my studies, I took a job at a residential college that offered Further Education to 16 -25 year-olds with learning disabilities and behavioural and emotional issues.
Here all the work centred around the horses on the yard, carefully combining this with the regular curriculum and independent living skills. It was inspiring to see students who had previously struggled with academic tasks begin to understand the concepts when approached from a different perspective. The horses themselves being in a teaching role and providing instant, honest and non-judgemental feedback.
I have also worked extensively in the youth work and education sector spending 7 years as Team Leader for the Prince’s Trust Team Programme at a then OFSTED Grade 1 Outstanding College. This twelve week personal development programme was aimed at 16 – 25 year olds who were not in education, employment or training (NEET). It was delivered with a high element of practical tasks in addition to classroom-based work for the young people to gain several accredited certificates and qualifications over its duration. Key themes included teamwork, reliability, communication, confidence, leadership and employability.
In 2020 I undertook my training with LEAP, completing a Level 4 Diploma in Equine Facilitated Learning. Through the LEAP Method the horse is treated as a co-facilitator rather than simply a tool for learning, something that I feel is important and this is reflected in all elements of our work.
In my spare time I enjoy walking my Border Terrier and spending time with my horse. I compete regularly in both dressage and eventing and when time allows, I can often be found volunteering at local events as a fence judge.
- BA(Hons) Equine Studies
- City & Guilds in Professional Licentiateship
- Crossfields Level 4 Diploma in Equine Facilitated Learning
- Prince’s Trust Team Leader Award
- Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector
- Safeguarding Level 2
- First Aid at Work
- Level 2 Introduction to Counselling
- British Horse Society Stage 3 (Grooms Certificate & Riding)
- Enhanced DBS Disclosure
Horses & Ponies
Jilly’s 28 and has lived at Bubbenhall Bridge for 18 years. She’s a Welsh pony 13.1hh. After many years in the riding school and several more ‘happy hacking’ she’s now enjoying a peaceful and pampered retirement.
Jilly was a very forward-thinking pony in her youth who loved to go at speed and jump. She now takes everything in her stride and is always a firm favourite for clients to groom and become confident around. Jilly is particularly good with our younger clients and those who are a little nervous. She loves nothing more than a good ear scratch!
“I enjoyed having an hour every week where I felt understood and there was no pressure to engage in human interaction. Being around the horses and working through various exercises with them helped me to understand how to set boundaries. This has helped me in learning to set boundaries for myself too.” A Client who attended 10 sessions via Early Help.