Personal Development with Horses


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"There's a horse trainer right there." High praise indeed from internationally known Liberty Trainer, Martin Contreras, as Natalie Blatchford (Year 7 student) stood side-by-side with an unrestrained horse, who felt so comfortable in her company that he dozed off to sleep.

This year the College trialled a personal development activity by way of a Basic Body Language and Liberty Clinic with horses.

It is now well established that being around and working with horses can help people to build confidence, communication skills, trust, social skills, impulse control, and also learn boundaries

Each of the seven invited students received 30 minutes instruction from well-regarded horseman, Martin Contreras. Martin facilitates bridges between horses and humans, helping them develop healthy emotional relationships which are quite remarkable experiences in and of themselves. ​

Domesticated horses are herd animals that look for leadership from humans and will not willingly follow a leader they do not trust. Trustworthy leaders are those able to control their own anxiety and demonstrate respect for their fellow herd members (in this case the "herd" will consist of one human and one horse). When the horse places their trust in their human leader they will choose to be with that person. It is then that lead ropes are not necessary for the horse and human to walk together

All students were successful in making the connection with one, or both, of the horses participating in the clinic, having first learned how to approach a horse and invite it to choose to connect and interact with them. The horses themselves were completely at liberty to move away from the student as they pleased and it was heart-warming to see they chose to stay.

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​​​​© Brisbane Catholic Education, St Augustine’s College (2021​)