Located at a small 25-acre farm in Littleborough in Rochdale, Pastures New is a not-for-profit organisation that primarily provides a safe and secure future for retired racehorses.

With their passion for horses, they wanted to share their skills and knowledge to benefit the local community and encourage young people to get involved in the care and future re-training of horses.

Their ‘Horse Power’ initiative is a learner-based educational experience with horses or, more specifically, it is an effective approach to human development through horsemanship. The programme provides vital education and training support, helping people to get their lives back on track after behavioural, mental health and/or emotional setbacks.

Participants of all ages benefit through team-emphasised exercises and find themselves learning valuable skills in a fun and exciting atmosphere while working through the dynamics of horses.

They encourage participants to think ‘outside the box’ or try on a new role. Human behaviour researchers have found that when one person steps outside of their comfort zone it can push others toward trying something new and different. This stimulates a fun atmosphere of creative interaction in a safe and controlled environment.

Greater Manchester Police’s Sunrise Team (child sexual exploitation division), Early Break (drug and alcohol dependency), Rochdale & District Mind, Rochdale Connections Trust and other smaller groups all take advantage of the Horse Power programme.

The group offers accredited courses for under 16s who are disengaged in education and/or at risk of permanent exclusion. The courses include: Animal Care, Woodland and Land Management, and Horticulture and Habitat Environments.

One individual who has benefited greatly from the project is 16-year-old ‘Grace’ who now volunteers at the farm every day. “Pastures New is an amazing organisation” explains Grace, “they have helped me to grow into the person I am today. The group gives me a reason to get up in the morning and I really don’t know where I would be today without this life-changing project.”