9 September 2021

Horse riding Program opens doors for disengaged youth

For Indigenous business and Yarpa Member, Tamworth Kootingal Horse Riding Adventures, taking care of horses is not only a way of life, but can change the future of our young people. 

This is the goal of their Swamp Oak Station Youth Agriculture and Equine Development Program.

The program introduces disengaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to the range of career prospects within the tourism and equestrian industry.

Owner, Jason Newman said the program can open the doors to many opportunities. 

“When the young ones are introduced to the activities in the program and meet the horses – It’s really incredible to watch. This program can open so many doors. Whether that be bush tucker tours, station tours and more – the opportunities are endless. Once they get a little taste of it, they love it.” 

Earlier this year, nine Aboriginal students from Gunnedah High School completed the nine-week pilot program. 

In that time, they were shown how to safely approach and catch a horse, correct grooming techniques, tethering a horse, mount and ride a trail horse. 

On top of this, they’re shown how to work in a team, build resilience, listen, and understand and respect each other. 

Program Participant, Jaycob said, “[Before the program] I wasn’t interested in being involved with horses or doing the program. But after the first week of the program, I couldn’t wait to get back out to Swamp Oak again. [The program] helped me boost my confidence and learn basic living and working skills that I’ll hold on to for life. Thanks Jason and Christine for this amazing program.”

The Swamp Oak Station Youth Agriculture and Equine Development Program has also gained interest from the Juvenile Justice department.

Newman said, “We’ve had interactions with Juvenile Justice with one of their clients participating with the group. One particular kid had been in a lot of strife and when he got here, Christine suggested he should drive the buggy. You couldn’t have painted a smile any bigger on him.”

This is just the beginning. 

Tamworth Kootingal Horse Riding Adventures plan on expanding the program to reach more youth in the region.

Newman said, “Following the success of the pilot, we’re aiming to extend the reach and impact of the program by creating opportunities for more youths to participate. Our goal is to conduct five programs of 10 students per school term, to change the lives of another 150 students before the end of July, 2022.”

Find out more about the program and how you can support them here: https://www.tkhra.com.au