Communities For Horses & The National Curriculum

Communities For Horses understands that many schools are under pressure to ensure that any activities and workshops that are delivered are as beneficial as possible to their students. CFH strives to ensure that its education programmes can be used as an alternative curriculum to ensure that pupils are hitting as many key targets as they can through the workshops and courses that we deliver.

CFH have used ‘The Donaldson Report’* to underpin its education programme, to ensure that it is delivering information and resources that are up to date and relevant in the current education system.

‘The Donaldson Report’* proposes the following key areas of learning and experience – Language, Literacy and Communication; Numeracy and Mathematics; Health and Wellbeing; The Humanities; Science and Technology; and The Expressive Arts. Through these key areas, the education system will be able to produce well rounded, healthy, confident individuals who are ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued citizens of Wales and the world.

Below is a summary on how the education programmes at CFH contribute to hitting key targets outlined by The National Curriculum and ‘The Donaldson Report*’.

CFH & Language, Literacy and Communication

Language, literacy and communication is focussed on developing a pupil’s written and spoken language.

Communication is a key component when working with horses; this includes both verbal and non-verbal communication. Recognising a horse’s behaviour is crucial to good training and so it is important that pupils are able to read subtle signs that their horse is portraying. As horses will often mirror a human’s emotions, pupils will have to recognise and control their emotions to ensure that they are providing the best setting for their horse.

Oral communication is essential when working with both other pupils and horses. Pupils will learn to build positive relationships with both horses and other people and build the confidence to express their thoughts, views and feelings confidently and in different settings. CFH also have workbooks and written activities that can be completed, giving pupils the opportunity to practise their written communication, including correct grammar, spelling and syntax.

CFH & Numeracy and Mathematics

CFH uses horses as a basis to inspire pupils to practise numeracy in everyday situations. Numeracy features heavily in the world of horse care including working out weights and heights of horses, measuring and weighing feeds, administration of medicines etc. Pupils are able to practice the theory of mathematics in situations which interest them, i.e horses, and are then able to transfer these skills to other situations in the outside world.

Numeracy and mathematics is also a way to develop a pupil’s wider skills of critical thinking; problem solving; planning and organisation; and creativity and innovation. As working with horses is often unpredictable it is essential that pupils plan and organise each session to run as smoothly as possible so that their horse can perform to the best of their ability. If, for any reason, the horse should not perform the way they would expect, pupils will have to think creatively to overcome any obstacles or setbacks.

Pupils can also develop their critical thinking skills when working with horses as they can self-evaluate their sessions, suggesting and making improvements for the future.

CFH & Health and Well-being

Health and Well-being aims to develop a pupil’s ‘emotional intelligence’. It is based on developing skills which will help pupils to build positive, healthy relationships with others and skills and habits which will help to promote their own well-being. Health and well-being is probably the area of the curriculum where CFH’s educational programmes can help the most, as working with horses is an excellent way of helping pupils to recognise and control their own emotions and understand the consequences that their actions have on others.

Developing a relationship with a horse is often easier than with peers, however it requires a lot of the same skills such as trust, communication, empathy and self-confidence. Pupils gain confidence through participating in activities with a horse and achieving things which they thought impossible; the ability to work with an animal which is naturally big, powerful and flighty and work with them to reach certain goals and milestones is a massive confidence boost for pupils. Pupils develop an empathy for their horse and need to use forethought to ensure that any actions they make does not have an adverse effect on their equine partner.

As horses are sensitive animals which will pick up on different types of emotions, pupils will need to look at their own feelings and behaviours, recognise what they are feeling, and control these emotions to ensure that both they and their horse have a positive experience. This skill is essential for pupils to develop positive relationships with peers and others -to recognise their emotions and control them, and to think of the consequences before acting on these emotions. A pupil’s own well-being and self-worth will also improve as they reach more milestones and achieve praise for positive behaviours and pupils will attempt new things and experiences which they may have been to wary of before.

CFH & The Humanities

The humanities are roughly split into four topics: History, Geography, Politics, Socio-economic, although they often overlap in many situations. CFH will again use the topic of horses to inspire pupils to research and study the impact that horses and horse ownership has had through each of these topics. Some topics of discussion are as follows:


  • The history of the horse, the different breeds, uses and jobs that they played in history and their uses in modern day.
  • The history of the horse and horse ownership in Swansea and the impact that this has had in the area.


  • Horses and horse ownership in Swansea and the impact this has had in the area.
  • Learning about grazing, crop cycles, land rotation etc and how the land is farmed.
  • Links to ecosystems, how the urban horse environment is different to that of wild horses.
  • The impact of urbanisation and domestication on the way that horses are kept in modern day.


  • Politics surrounding horse ownership in Swansea.
  • Laws and Acts that need to be followed in regards to responsible horse ownership
  • Five freedoms and how the animal welfare laws link with these.
  • Discussions on the wider horse industry


  • The culture of horse ownership through different generations and the relevance of this in modern day
  • Economics of horse ownership – financial responsibility of owning horses/indiscriminate breeding/dealing horses/reduced value in horses
  • Impact of poor animal welfare on the community and the cost this has on society

CFH & Science and Technology

Science and Technology includes the three science subjects: Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Biology, in particular, is well covered by the activities provided by CFH. The anatomy and behaviour of the horse is covered in detail as it is essential that a basic knowledge of the physical and mental make-up of an animal is in place to understand what a horse really needs in order to promote the best welfare for that animal.

Vet days, farrier days, passport days etc. all contribute to the teaching of the biology of a horse, as do the talks and workshops which are also provided. Physics and chemistry are also touched upon through horse care through discussion on feeds, medications and horse training.

Horses are used as an inspiration for pupils to develop their creative thinking and design technology. Pupils are encouraged to design, create and build a range of items and some of the activities CFH provide include horse shoe painting, woodwork, logo designs and stable name plaques for horses. CFH also touches upon computer technology through its social media and pupils are encouraged to contribute to this through pictures, blogs and media updates.  

CFH & The Expressive Arts

Similar to design technology, the horse is used as a focal point to develop a pupil’s creativity. Horses are used as an inspiration for art and design and pupils are encouraged to produce work through whatever medium they wish (painting, drawing, poems, stories etc).

Any work which is produced is celebrated and pupils are asked to evaluate their work in order to improve their skills. As the expressive arts are often very therapeutic, it can be an excellent way for pupil’s to take time out if they are struggling to understand and control their emotions. Film and photography is also promoted, as it is an excellent way of evidencing a pupil’s progress as well as being a creative outlet. This links in with the aims of computer technology, as the pupils work can be shared online through CFH.

It is hoped that an interest in horses can lead to an interest in film and literature that includes horses e.g. War Horse/Black Beauty etc. which then links into Language, literature and communication. A developed sense of empathy for the horses will also help pupils see the world from the horse’s point of view and stories or cartoon strips on horses can be an excellent way of developing creative writing skills. Through the expressive arts pupils begin to understand that not everything in the world is black and white and working with horses helps to develop a resilience to new experiences and failed attempts, as they start to gain enjoyment and personal satisfaction from their creative expression.

This is a brief overview of how the educational programmes that Communities For Horses provides links in with the National Curriculum. For a more detailed outline, or for examples of our course material please contact us though our website.

*The Donaldson Report can be found under the title: ‘Successful Futures: An Independent Review of Curriculum and Assessment Arrangements in Wales.’ Professor Graham Donaldson CB, February 2015.