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Patrons: Martin Clunes and Lord Knight of Weymouth Registered Charity No. 1141654/1170553

“TheHorseCourse exemplifies the right attitude and

approach towards collecting and analysing data in

order to test and demonstrate impact, as well as

develop practice responsively.”

James Noble, New Philanthropy Capital



We are extremely research-friendly. Please get in touch if you are a researcher connected with an academic institution looking for an interesting project.


Papers and Studies (chronological)

2019 TheHorseCourse Evidence Summary

1 page summary: Evidence to date 2021

A one page summary of our large body of evaluation by external academics and other experts, including papers in international peer-reviewed academic journals and presentations at international conferences.

view 1pp PDF

HETI Seoul 2021

A proposed study to shift TheHorseCourse proven equine-assisted intervention to a VR platform for large-scale reach 2021

Harriet Laurie, TheHorseCourse & Professor Ann Hemingway, Bournemouth University presenting.

Abstract and presentation, as delivered orally for HETI (Horses in Education & Therapy International) 2021 Congress, Seoul, Korea. This outlines the pilot in progress, testing EEG and other wearable psycho-physiology technology as the potential feedback loop for a future Neuro-Virtual Reality system to replicate TheHorseCourse in a virtual world for massive scale reach.

Watch a 3 minute video explaining the project in layman's terms and showing the research team in action at TheHorseCourse

View the 1pp PDF abstract; open the 9pp powerpoint presentation (PDF); or view the 15 minute presentation as a video;

DVA findings 2020

Domestic Violence & abuse: summary findings 2020

The impact of Dorset Families Matter and TheHorseCourse on domestic violence and abuse in Dorset’s "Troubled Families"

  • Pre and 12-months Post measures across 3 different approaches plus a control group
  • TheHorseCourse had the largest proportional decrease in DVA flags, down by 51% 12 months post-intervention, whereas the control group had a 17% increase. Statistically significant results p<0.05
  • Detailed papers for scientific journals currently pre-press 

    view 1pp PDF

Exploring change processes in an equine-assisted intervention 2020

Seaman-Thornton, F. DClinPsych Thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University Salomons Institute for Applied Psychology

A qualitative study exploring perceptions in order to develop a grounded theory of change processes.

See pdf pages 82-93/154 for quotes and discussion of TheHorseCourse process from the perspectives of young people, parents, professional referrers and our facilitators.

View 154pp thesis



The hierarchy of evidence and equine assisted interventions... TheHorseCourse 2020

Professor Ann Hemingway, Bournemouth University presents a zoom talk on how TheHorseCourse has developed an evidence base since 2010.

Watch the zoom recording (1h18m) here
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A Study Exploring the Implementation of an Equine Assisted Intervention for Young People with Mental Health and Behavioural Issues 2019

Hemingway, A. J 2019, 2(2), 236-246

A feasibility study exploring the potential of TheHorseCourse reStart as an appropriate subject for a gold-standard RCT clinical study. Includes some cost benefit indicators.

View 11pp study


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An Exploration of the Mechanism of Action of an Equine-Assisted Intervention 2019

Hemingway, A.; Carter, S.; Callaway, A.; Kavanagh, E.; Ellis, S. Animals 2019, 9, 303 

A bio-physiology study investigating the emotional learning journey during TheHorseCourse ReStart, published in a high impact international journal.

View 22pp paper

 canterbury christ church university

Making sense of change in an equine assisted intervention 2019

Watson, S. 2019. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology

A qualitative study exploring how parents make sense of change in an equine assisted intervention for their child: TheHorseCourse

See pdf pages 59 – 73/109 for quotes and insights into the journey of change for young people, described by parents witnessing TheHorseCourse ReStart programme in action.

View 109pp thesis



The Royal College of Psychiatrists
General Adult Psychiatry Annual Conference 2018

Dr N Kosky – poster presentation of findings.

View Poster

View 3pp abstract

A Feasibility Study of an Equine Assisted Intervention for Children and 
Young People with Mental Health and Behavioural Challenges, 2018

Professor Ann Hemingway, BU – oral presentation at Horses in Education & Therapy International 2018 Congress, Dublin

  • TheHorseCourse ReStart fulfils all elements of feasibility study and is therefore suitable for an RCT
  • 95% completion rate across multiple cohorts
  • Over 70% show gains in 4 intermediate outcomes:
  1. improved attendance and engagement with school/training/work
  2. improved relationships
  3. reduced problem behaviours 
  4. greater self belief
view 23pp PDF

A Pilot Study of the Mechanism of Action of an Equine Assisted Intervention, 2018

BU, multi-discipinary team – oral presentation at Horses in Education & Therapy International 2018 Congress, Dublin

view 14pp PDF 
CallToAction THC 2017 150

Call to Action, 2017

BU and others are calling for funding for an RCT (randomised controlled trial) or other large scale controlled evaluation. This is in response to BU analysis of the follow-up data on 126 participants from external professionals - the outstanding results, on top of all the previous evidence of effectiveness, have led to this call.

  • 81% of participants shifted in a positive direction across 8 inter-related core skills
  • the average positive shift seen using a scale 0–32 was +10.4 points for those that improved.

Statistically significant positive results (p<0.001) were found in each of the 8 dimensions of TheHorseCourse Skills Star, see THC Star online. A large standardised effect size (d=1.1) was found for the summed scores of the 8 dimensions.

view 1pp PDF


Handbook of Wellbeing. Routledge 2017, Prof Kate Galvin, ed.

Chapter: Horses and Humans: Teaching Young People to be Well, Hemingway,A.

The chapter is a narrative description of a psycho-physiological study of TheHorseCourse undertaken by a multidisciplinary team at Bournemouth University.

Purchase book


Evaluating a natural horsemanship program in relation to the ISES first principles of horse training, 2016

Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 15 (sept oct 2016), 87. Publisher: Elsevier BV
ISSN: 1558-7878. Also poster presentation at ISES Conference 2016, France.

North, S., Hemingway, A., MacLean, A., Laurie, H. and Ellis Hill, C., 2016. Evaluating a natural horsemanship program in relation to the ISES first principles of horse training.

Though not strictly relating to TheHorseCourse, this found the training method we use (Parelli) to be highly congruent with the humane training principles stated by the International Society of Equitation Science.

view abstract


Evaluation to date 2016 1 

Summary: Evidence to date 2016

A summary of all the evaluation studies on our work and a snapshot of how the ReStart works.
Full copies of most of the studies are linked below.

view 9pp pdf


Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy With Children and Adolescents: An Update and Literature Review 2015

Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, Jennifer A. Lentini & Michele S. Knox
  • TheHorseCourse identified in peer reviewed analysis as one of the most prominent equine-assisted methodologies

Link to paper online


TheHorseCourse Youth Outcomes, 2015

  • 33% average improvement in managing anxiety
  • 29% average gain across eight core skills: Engagement, Calmness, Assertiveness, Focus & Perseverance, Empathy,
  • Realistic Planning, Communication, Responsibility
  • 85% of participants increased attendance/engagement with education
  • 80% of referrers attribute improvements to TheHorseCourse, (55% strongly)

Produced with support from Charities Evaluation Services (part of NCVO).
view 6pp PDF


TheHorseCourse Evidence Review, working with Offenders 2015

  • Including Theory of Change and Contribution Analysis
  • 27 % points reduction in reoffending
  • £8.30 return per £1 spent in prisons

Written in collaboration with New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) & CLINKS. Peer reviewed by the Correctional Services Accreditation & Advisory Panel (CSAAP), Ministry of Justice.

view 56pp PDF

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Moving Forward in Recovery
Pilot Summer/Autumn 2015

55% of participants shifted from disengaged/not progressing in treatment to attending and progressing. They attribute this change to the course.
On average they also made a 12% improvement on the 8 skills taught by TheHorseCourse.

Produced by EDP Drug & Alcohol Services (main service provider in the Southwest, UK)

view 26pp report


Interim Evaluation Report, 2012, with update 2015

Dr Rosie Meek, Head of Criminology, Royal Holloway University


view 21pp PDF
Animal Society

An Exploration of an Equine Facilitated Learning Intervention with Young Offenders 2014

Internation peer reviewed scientific journal: Society and Animals ISSN: 1063-1119

Hemingway, A., Meeks, R. and Ellis-Hill, C.

view abstract


Criminology Dissertation 2013

Rachel Natasha Thomas, BSc Applied Social Sciences, Southampton University.

A careful analysis of exit interviews with prisoner participants.

view 63pp PDF

Referral / Outcomes / Feedback Star

TheHorseCourse Star

TheHorseCourse Star shows the eight areas we work on directly during the course. It is marked up as part of the referral process, later as the basis for discussion of outcomes together with the participant and finally as part of the feedback from referrers 2 months post-intervention. View PDF.

UK Prison-oriented people may be interested in the correlation between the star points and the identified needs in OASys (Offender Assessment System). This version of the star shows the roughly corresponding sections. View PDF.

  • It is an intervention for the most difficult to engage

    Russ Trent, Governor, HMP & YOI Portland

  • I hope this work which I understand the PCT Commissioner has been impressed with, is able to continue

    Jeremy Wright, Minister for Prisons

  • TheHorseCourse has succeeded in getting through to some of the most difficult and disruptive Young Offenders...

    Lord Ramsbotham, former Chief Inspector of Her Majesty's Prisons

  • A new option which shows great promise to reduce exclusions and to reduce ongoing mental health issues.

    Kirsty Dring, Wellbeing Team Leader, All Saints School, Weymouth

  • THC has made significant impact - one student learnt she is able to succeed, another has doubled her time in lessons.

    Allan Wood, Headmaster, Compass Learning Centre (Pupil Referral Unit)

  • We are working in partnership with TheHorseCourse on a number of pilots including Rehab Services, Crisis Service and Acute Inpatient settings.

    Sarah Rose, Dorset Mental Health Forum

  • A uniquely powerful course for installing mental and emotional self control...I am excited to be a part of this project.

    Stephanie Gaunt, licensed 3* Parelli Professional Horsemanship Instructor

  • Students have to take control of the situation, be effective... that is huge.

    Tracey Hodder, Specialist Support Worker, Compass Learning Centre

  • We train our people by doing, but when things go wrong we try to fix them by talking. It doesn't make sense.

    Reverend Simon Beveridge, Royal Marines, Poole

  • Preliminary findings from the evaluation research are incredibly positive.

    Professor Rosie Meek, Criminal Psychology, Royal Holloway University

  • Engaging and motivating prisoners is notoriously difficult and yet TheHorseCourse has managed to do just that consistently and effectively.

    Lord Jim Knight of Weymouth (former Minister for Education)

  • I'm amazed by the work of Parelli practitioners such as Harriet Laurie... There is no-one horses cannot touch!

    Linda Parelli, Parelli Natural Horsemanship, USA

  • Seeing these kids getting a horse to do something for them simply by controlling their own moods is incredible.

    Martin Clunes (Actor, Presenter & President of The British Horse Society)

  • THC empowers prisoners as teachers and leaders of horses, rather than trying to further diminish them as pupils.

    Emily Bolton, Trustee, Solicitor, Founded the Innocence Project New Orleans

  • Society would benefit from this sort of intervention earlier, I would like to see it in primary schools.

    K Forrester, Trustee, School Teacher & Head of Year

  • It's great to see an intervention where there is such good evidence of effectiveness.

    Helen Price, Lead Commissioner for Families, Gloucestershire County Council

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