Pioneering equestrian course could help stop prisoners from re-offending

HORSE COURSE: Horse trainer Laura Dixon and her horse, Mak

PRISONER REFORM: Horse trainer Laura Dixon is offering the HorseCourse to help the region's prisoners

HORSE COURSE: Horse trainer Laura Dixon and her horse, Mak

First published in News
Last updated

A PIONEERING course which uses horses to prevent prisoners from re-offending is being introduced to the North-East.

Founded by Harriet Laurie in 2010, the HorseCourse uses specially trained horses to help violent offenders change their behaviour.

The course began at Portland Young Offender Institution, in Dorset, where it was found to be three times better than any other form of rehabilitation currently on offer.

A study by Professor Rosie Meek, from The Royal Holloway University of London, found that a year after being released, re-offending among participants on the course was 44 per cent – a drop of nearly 20 per cent from their predicted figures.

She also found the course resulted in a 168 per cent increase in positive behaviour in prison, and a drop of more than 70 per cent in negative behaviour.

Following its pilot in Dorset, North-East horse trainer Laura Dixon hopes to replicate the course's success in the region with her specially trained horses, 15-year-old Mak and three-year-old Winnie.

The 34-year-old of Middleton St George, Darlington, teaches the Parelli System, which was founded in the US more than 20 years ago and aims to build a better relationship of trust with the horse.

She said: “The results of the course are amazing. The HorseCourse been accepted down in the South-West so we are trying to get it accepted elsewhere in the country.”

The HorseCourse helps participants to take responsibility for their own actions, to be calm in difficult situations, to have the confidence to take on new challenges, to work towards goals despite setbacks and to be assertive without getting aggressive or upset.

It also encourages people to have empathy and to be respectful.

“People naturally respect horses. They are sensitive and can be very easily upset so you have got to respect them,” said Miss Dixon.

“People fall in love with the horses during the course and they do not want to upset them.

“The course brings out qualities in people like calmness and patience and helps people to believe in themselves.”

The course has also been successful in helping children with behavioural problems and mental health issues.

Miss Dixon is looking for prisons, school or early intervention teams who may be interested in running a pilot scheme to get in touch by emailing lauradixon1979@hotmail.com

Comments (7)

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6:20pm Mon 26 May 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

you've got to be kidding me!

Is it April 1st already.
you've got to be kidding me! Is it April 1st already. thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: 3

9:46am Tue 27 May 14

Gob Marley says...

This is clearly the future.
This is clearly the future. Gob Marley
  • Score: 3

9:52am Tue 27 May 14

laughingboy51 says...

Unbelievable........
....................
.....Dick Turpin would be proud!
Unbelievable........ .................... .....Dick Turpin would be proud! laughingboy51
  • Score: 3

10:12am Tue 27 May 14

JJ2000 says...

And if it doesn't work you can always tie the prisoners to the horses and drag 'em through the town at high noon.

Yeehaw! Pew pew
And if it doesn't work you can always tie the prisoners to the horses and drag 'em through the town at high noon. Yeehaw! Pew pew JJ2000
  • Score: 6

11:02am Thu 29 May 14

johnny_p says...

I'd love to learn how to ride a horse.

Sadly though, I'd have to pay for the privilege.
I'd love to learn how to ride a horse. Sadly though, I'd have to pay for the privilege. johnny_p
  • Score: 3

12:52pm Fri 30 May 14

kristal27 says...

johnny_p wrote:
I'd love to learn how to ride a horse.

Sadly though, I'd have to pay for the privilege.
You could mug a few old ladies, go on a shop lifting spree in Lidl, , burgle a few houses -blame it all on your terrible upbringing and bobs your uncle - you could be in the 2016 show jumping team !
[quote][p][bold]johnny_p[/bold] wrote: I'd love to learn how to ride a horse. Sadly though, I'd have to pay for the privilege.[/p][/quote]You could mug a few old ladies, go on a shop lifting spree in Lidl, , burgle a few houses -blame it all on your terrible upbringing and bobs your uncle - you could be in the 2016 show jumping team ! kristal27
  • Score: 2

1:05pm Fri 30 May 14

kristal27 says...

A totally misleading title from the Northern Echo What laura dixon can offer is a far cry from the schemes in the USA that take young offenders, usually with violent tendencies, and pair them with horses that have been abused in some way and get them to work with them. Equine-Facilitated Therapy can help certain young people with anger management problems and motivate and give them self-confidence but these schemes are done under close psychological scrutiny, mostly involving residential courses, and only a small part of the offenders rehabilitation process. How a hardened criminal with years of re-offending could benefit from patting a horse or learning to ride beats me.
A totally misleading title from the Northern Echo What laura dixon can offer is a far cry from the schemes in the USA that take young offenders, usually with violent tendencies, and pair them with horses that have been abused in some way and get them to work with them. Equine-Facilitated Therapy can help certain young people with anger management problems and motivate and give them self-confidence but these schemes are done under close psychological scrutiny, mostly involving residential courses, and only a small part of the offenders rehabilitation process. How a hardened criminal with years of re-offending could benefit from patting a horse or learning to ride beats me. kristal27
  • Score: 2

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