The Berwickshire-based Horse Time charity has been selected as the Sainsburys in Kelso local charity of the year.
Based near Coldstream, Horse Time offers a range of courses and workshops for people struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma and PTSD, as well as helping children and adolescents with complex needs, all based around working with horses.
Its Horses for Forces programme offers veterans and first responders who have suffered trauma, residential therapy to provide coping strategies. Horses are hypersensitive so the therapy teaches servicemen to regulate their own emotions.
Coldstream’s Vince Davidson, who served in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, seeing active service in Northern Ireland and the Gulf now volunteers on the Horses for Forces programmes after working with horses helped him come to terms with his own trauma.
Founded by Sue Brewis, a fully qualified psychological trauma therapist, the charity also provides day courses for teenagers and school based programmes to help local youngsters cope with emotional regulation, self awareness, depression and anxiety.
“The transformation horses can bring about in people, particularly those suffering from anxiety, depression and PTSD, severe illness or disability, is simply extraordinary,” said Sue.
“It is the horses’ ability to provide people with instant and honest feedback that provides us with the insight we need to change our behaviour.
“Working with horses in this way makes us aware of negative coping habits that could be holding us back. We then facilitate experiences that explore other ways of interacting within the safety of our therapeutic herd.
“This helps people overcome obstacles and challenges more successfully, strengthening new neural pathways that allow us to start living the way we want.”
Borders MP John Lamont visited the charity recently: “It was fascinating to hear about how horses can help people get through all sorts of mental illnesses from trauma to anxiety and depression. I really think the NHS and care providers need to look closely at programmes like this for some of their patients.
“It was great to have a ride on Billy. He was incredibly responsive to my breathing and movements and it was a brief insight into how effective therapy involving horses can be.”