Pupils saddle up for alternative schooling

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A project partly funded by the Forfar Roof Truss Award has opened up new horizons for pupils from Forfar Academy’s Individual Support Base.

Through the school, six youngsters have been introduced to horse riding which has helped to improve their confidence and, in some cases, has also helped their concentration.

The award, made by the Forfar Roof Truss Company Ltd in conjunction with the Dispatch and Herald, contributed £250 towards a block of six lessons at Pathhead Equestrian Centre in Kirriemuir. For several of the pupils it was their first experience of being on horseback and, after overcoming initial nerves, all of them have taken to it and enjoyed their lessons thoroughly.

Over the six weeks they were taken through the basics by instructors Kate Mackie and Susan Fairweather, assisted by Ashleigh Walker and Natasha Donaldson, and by their final lesson last week most of them were riding independently at walk and trot.

Class teacher Sally Cowie, who applied for the funding, said the experience has made a huge difference to the pupils as it encouraged self-confidence and a sense of achievement they might not otherwise have had.

She said: “They’ve so enjoyed it. We’d been to Teen Ranch for a day during the summer and some had experience there so we thought it would be good if we could set up some riding through the school. We got in touch with Pathhead, which has experience of teaching children with difficulties, and it’s just been great.

“They’ve all come on hugely. None of them had been independent on a horse before. If we had funding it’s something we’d like to go on with, but at least now they’ve got the confidence to carry it on with their families if they want to and we can use their experience as a stimulus for learning in other areas.”.

See video footage of the pupils in action on our website at www.forfardispatch.co.uk