A pioneering equine assisted mentoring program for young people in foster care who have experienced trauma is now available in the UK for the first time here at the Tinnis Trust.
Stable Moments® is a one-on-one, trauma-informed mentorship approach where children who have lived in survival mode start to develop trust with a healthy adult. Activities focus on showing them that they are inherently valuable, increasing their self-worth and emotional awareness. The farm environment and interaction with horses, help them to develop self-regulation skills and independence.
Learning these valuable skills in sessions at the farm, with their mentor, gives them a reference point, for when they’re struggling outside of sessions. Participants can translate their new skills to home, school and community settings. This allows them to have better social relationships, improve their academic performance and feel a greater sense of belonging and responsibility to their community.
Used successfully all over the USA, this trauma-informed equine assisted mentoring program for young people who are adopted, in foster care or on the edge of care and have experienced developmental trauma is available for the first time in the UK, thanks to a Wee Grant from the Robertson Trust.
About Equine Assisted Mentoring
Children who live in the care system and have survived trauma can struggle with feelings of worthlessness. Mentoring is an important way to show young people that they matter. A mentor can provide some stability and a positive role model for children used to constant change. A mentor is a specially trained and vetted volunteer, a role-model who takes one hour a week to show up, be engaged and provide a Stable Moment for a child, promoting a feeling of “I matter!”. Our trauma-informed approach partners young people with a mentor and a horse, creating the perfect environment for children to learn life skills and make healthy transitions into adulthood. Even a child who has learned to trust no-one can learn to trust a horse. Horses don’t lie, they don’t judge, and they have no hidden agenda. It doesn’t take long for a mentor to become a trusted part of the team. And, as Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a leading expert in the field of trauma and resilience suggests, "children who experience consistent and caring relationships with adults are more likely to have positive developmental outcomes and to develop resilience in the face of adversity" (Van der Kolk, 2014, p. 213).
The Stable Moments® program uses an evidence-based, trauma-informed curriculum that has been successful all over the USA and is now, for the first time, available in the UK. Our staff and volunteers are all certified in the model. For one hour each week for 10 months, each child gets their own volunteer mentor and horse to work with on the ground. No riding is involved. Each session is supervised by a Board Certified Equine Interaction Professional who is dual certified in Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy.
The Stable Moments® project is for young people living with the emotional, behavioural and physical effects of complex trauma, helping them to connect themselves, other people and the world around them. Trauma impacts brain development, and only a consistent, trauma-informed approach can help heal underdeveloped parts of the brain we need for social, emotional, and cognitive functioning. It seems simple but helping kids believe they matter is the first step in creating future adults that care about who they become and how they contribute to society. We show them they matter by showing up for them, time and time again, with a structured, proven model.