Interaction with horses is to be used to help children with a range of learning needs.

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By saying hello to one in a field, grooming it or taking it round an obstacle course, children struggling with learning difficulties, behavioural issues or a lack of social skills can benefit according to Equine Assisted Learning.

And next weekend a new centre will open in Burgh St Peter, near Beccles, as families are given an opportunity to see what is on offer.

Holly Steel, of North Cove, is launching the Back on Track Equine Assisted Learning Centre having seen the impact horses can have on individuals.

She said: “I suffered depression a long time ago and realised there was a feel good factor being around them.

“I found a qualification to help children with autism, ADHD and those being bullied, as being around horses can help with self-esteem and confidence.”

There is no riding in the sessions, instead the children learn about horses on a one-to-one basis, with them finding out about themselves through their emotions.

Miss Steel said: “Ponies mirror your mood, so if you have lots of energy they do. Children with ADHD can get out with the horses in the field and channel their energy in the right way.”

Miss Steel, 34, used to run a livery yard, but after studying for her facilitator equine assisted qualification is opening up the centre with six rescued horses and ponies.

She said her children have all been around horses since they were born, and that they particularly helped her eldest daughter Sophie, 8, who suffers from dyslexia and was bullied.

“It really has helped to have them around, it’s given her a self-esteem boost,” she said.

It is hoped in the future she will take children in small groups as well as the one-to-one sessions.

The children can be referred by schools, education departments, social services, mental health professionals, residential children’s homes, foster carers, charitable organisations or privately.

The open day at the centre, off Pit Road, will run from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, March 9. For further details visit www.ealbackontrack.com

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