Girls in the BackTrack program are learning about their behaviour through working with horses.
The girls – some of which are from the Gunnedah shire – normally work with dogs at Trelawney near Somerton, but this week visited Darren and Sarah Greentree’s horse property, Old Dunreath, near Calala.
BackTrack program student counsellor Sarah Ferguson said the girls unanimously said they wanted to do something with horses involving ground work, not riding.
“We usually work with dogs, but horses are prey, whereas dogs and humans are predators, so they react differently,” Ms Ferguson said.
“The girls are learning that how they conduct themselves is reflected in how the horses behave. They are also learning to take notice of how they are with another animal.”
Ms Ferguson said she hoped to give the BackTrack girls ongoing exposure to horses.
BackTrack offers young people, who have lost their way an opportunity to reconnect with their education and training, to become work-ready, find jobs, lead happy and productive lives and participate fully in the community.
BackTrack participant Brianna Whitten from Tamworth said she enjoyed working with the horses, but was more used to working with the dogs.
“I think I have more of a connection with the dogs than horses because the last time I was around a horse was when I was 12,” Brianna said.
“When you walk up too quickly, the horse tries to find a place to run because it’s scared – and they react differently to people than dogs do.”
Fellow participant, Janika Readett, from Boggabri, said she enjoyed getting to know more about horses.
“This is the first time I’ve learned how to pick up a horses’s hoof, because the first time I got kicked in the face,” Janika said.
“Horses are more my height and you know when they’re afraid and what they’re feeling, whereas dogs have the same facial expressions.
“I enjoy them both because I’m more of an animal person in general.”
Gunnedah’s Jacqui Bender said she had quite a bit of experience with horses and loved working with them.
“They are a totally different creature to us and you can teach them so much,” Jacqui said.
“It gives us something different to do. I love all kinds of horses and enjoy working with both dogs and horses.”