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NEW FOR 2024

Thanks to funding from the Shackleton Foundation, The Tinnis Trust will be providing the following residential retreats, incorporating horses and the outdoors for young people who have experienced trauma and/or the care system. They are completely free of charge. Places are limited. Referrals open on September 12th and close on October 30th 2023. We can only accept referrals from agencies that have attended either the  Lunch and Learn or Information Evening to find out more.  

The Alpha Mare Course

Would you or a person you support like to reconnect with self, discover inner strength and gain support from a group of like-minded women while spending time in a beautiful place, interacting on the ground with a herd of horses, finding out what they have to teach us about assertiveness and strong, connected relationships? 

The Alpha Mare Course

FAQ:

What is it?

The Alpha Mare Course is a residential peer support retreat for young women with a unique selling point: horses!

Where is it?

The Alpha Mare Course residential retreat is held at our beautiful centre in the Scottish Borders, a farm near forests and mountains where horses, pigs, dogs, cats, ducks and chickens all put in an appearance! It is a peaceful place, great for a digital detox as both phone and internet signal are limited.  

What is included?

Each guest  receives a free self care kit containing lots of goodies such a journal, skin and hair care products and much more. Each person has their own room in a Georgian Farmhouse for the week. They also get access to communal spaces and a kitchen. Meals, complementary therapies and equine assisted peer support sessions are included free of charge. Participantswill also get the chance to gain an ASDAN accredited certificate in Peer Mentoring or Animal Care.

How do I know it works?

This program is tried and tested. Piloted with funding from Mind, the leading mental health charity in England and Wales, and Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk. As a women’s mental health peer support program, it helped more than 40 women experiencing disadvantage who were frequently under-represented in services to improve their mental health. The Alpha Mare equine assisted peer support course won a Marsh Christian Award for innovative peer supported in 2019.

How do horses help?

There is a special affinity between women and horses As prey animals, horses are powerful yet vulnerable. Horses and women have a shared understanding of how it can feel like to be prey. Horse herds are led, not by stallions, but by an Alpha Mare. The Alpha Mare in a herd is an assertive leader and fierce protector who has strong and connected relationships with the others in her herd. Like the lead mare in the horse herd, women are programmed by society to take care of others and are prone to make personal sacrifices. Due to putting their own needs last, they don't always access help for mental health. 


The Alpha Mare Course enables women to set boundaries, make healthy choices, create self-worth, build self-esteem and cope with change. Peer support happens as women join together to take part in a meaningful activity and bond over a shared interest. This equips them with the confidence and communication skills to talk about their mental health, form a supportive 'herd' and discover their inner Alpha Mare qualities.

What is peer support?

Peer support differs from other forms of mental health services in important ways. It happens when people who have similar experiences of something difficult come together to support each other. It is through this development of meaningful, two-way relationships that peer support works. Crucially, the people involved play an active role in creating a safe environment for each other. Peer support can improve your emotional health, well-being and sense of belonging. A vital part of peer support is mutual respect; peer support aims to help both those giving and receiving support. Everyone's experiences are treated as equally important, so you might find this gives you a different experience to more traditional support options.

How could it help me? 

Lots of people find peer support improves their wellbeing and helps them cope with mental health problems. For example, it could:

  • help you to open up about what you are feeling and experiencing

  • introduce you to ideas and approaches that others have found helpful

  • reassure you that you're not alone in how you are feeling

  • help you to connect with others and give you a sense of belonging

  • encourage you to value your strengths

  • build your self-esteem and confidence

  • help you to feel more hopeful about the future.

How do I apply

You can apply for a free place on the Alpha Mare Course  yourself or, if you would rather, you can ask a professional who knows you well such as a therapist, social worker, support worker or teacher to apply on your behalf.

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"Interacting with the horses has helped me to be kinder to myself, understand when to trust and how to set boundaries with other people. I know now what positive relationships are all about."

24 year old survivor of gender-based violence

The Life Hack Course

FAQ:

What is it?

The Life Hack Course residential helps young people aged 15- 25 to develop essential life and work skills through caring for and training horses. It can be adapted for lots of different groups. This year's course is designed to prepare young people who are thinking about moving on from foster care to live and work independently.

Where is it?

The Life Hack Course residential retreat is held at our beautiful centre in the Scottish Borders, a farm near forests and mountains where horses, pigs, dogs, cats, ducks and chickens all put in an appearance! It is a peaceful place, great for a digital detox as both phone and internet signal are limited.  

What is included?

Each guest  receives a free self care kit containing lots of goodies such a journal, skin and hair care products and much more. Each person has their own room in a Georgian Farmhouse for the week. They also get access to communal spaces and a kitchen. Meals and equine assisted mentoring  sessions are included free of charge. You will also get the chance to gain an ASDAN accredited Moving On certificate or one in Animal Care.

How do I know it works?

The Life Hack course is tried and tested. Every person who took part in the pilot project gained an ASDAN certificate in Peer Mentoring, Animal Care or  Volunteering. One third found employment, another third went back into education or training and the remainder went onto volunteer in their communities.

How do horses help?

Connecting with animals in the outdoors can help us to learn life and work skills that are transferable to our lives outside the farm. For example, learning to put on a saddle requires planning and responsibility, the ability to read body language, knowing in advance what equipment is needed, positioning it in a specific order, checking the work for safety and completeness and asking for help if needed. The Life Hack course regularly provides an opportunity to learn how to handle challenges and come up with creative solutions!

How does it work?

The Life Hack Course includes both horse care and horse training elements. You'll get hands-on practice at training horses on the ground, learning to interact with them safely and empathetically. You'll also find out how to feed, groom and do basic healthcare checks on horses. At the same time, you'll be creating a portfolio of employability skills that you can keep for yourself or show to potential colleges or employers. 

While you're on the residential, you'll be getting the chance to try out living independently away from home. You'll learn skills you need to maintain a home, manage money, make great relationships and be healthy. All these skills will also be added to your portfolio, enabling you to work towards an ASDAN Moving On certificate.

How could it help me? 

The Life Hack course can help you learn vital life skills such as:

  • How to plan ahead and think about the future

  • How to problem solve and be prepared for challenges

  • How to be flexible and adapt

  • How to keep your mind on a task

  • How to be confident and feel engaged

  • How to be aware of your environment and the feedback it gives.

  • How to fine tune your communication skills including body language, tone of voice, eye contact and even breath.

  • How to stay calm and stay focussed

  • How to give and receive constructive criticism.

  • How to understand your own learning style.

  • How to move ahead in your life

  • How to be more independent

How do I apply

To apply for a free place on Life Hack Course, you need to referred by a  professional who knows you well such as a therapist, social worker, support worker or teacher. 

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