The HorseCourse Star

The star shows the main areas we work on – at the centre of the star people are stuck in behaviours which are unhelpful. As they progress, they move outwards towards the points of the star. We assess progress by observation or in discussion with the participant – but always based on observations you have been able to make in session. By marking their level on each point you can join the marks and create ‘before’ and ‘after’ shapes. examples can be seen in our photo gallery.

Each ‘point’ has associated horsemanship exercises/strategies we use to work on the desired outcome.The Star is used both as a teaching tool to help participants see the progress they have made and as an evaluation tool- assessed by referrers before and 2 months after the intervention.

The HorseCourse star pre and post course

The most important use of the star is as a way of discussing and reflecting on the course on the final day. We talk through each point, thinking about where the participant was at the beginning of the course and how far they got by the end. All the ‘before’ marks join up to make a shape as do the ‘after’ marks. The ‘after’ shape is always bigger, but each participant makes progress at a different rate. The one shown here is fairly typical.

In this final discussion we talk about how each skill has an impact on how life works and how the new skills they have learnt are like muscles, if they don’t work at them they disappear. We also discuss how much easier they become with practice. Sometimes even by mid week our participants are already relating the skills they are learning on the course to dealing with their own personal challenges at home.

The HorseCourse Observation Chart

Created in-house with inspiration from Linda Parelli’s work on “horsenality”; this tool was used by Dr Hemingway in a field study and is used as our primary case note tool and the basis of our Non-verbals Toolbox Trainings. This tool charts human behaviour on 2 axes: Fear to Dominance, and Still to Busy. Observing body language in oneself or others allows one to accurately assess emotional states; and distinct non-verbal strategies can be employed to help people find the green areas of the chart which are pro-social and functional, and minimise time spent in amber or red areas which are less functional and/or anti-social.

NB Our methodology relies heavily on Parelli Natural Horsemanship, which we believe offers the greatest potential for practice in this field. The Parelli programme is at the forefront of the global “Natural Horsemanship” movement and represents an approach developed in the US over the past 30 years.