Rescued horses turn a teenager’s life around

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Thomas no longer locks himself away in his room, he talks more and doesn’t feel lonely, he felt part of a community working for one purpose, for the horse.

This summer (2017) the Sanctuary team, together with pony Briony and donkeys Nellie and Duncan, helped Thomas Walsh (24) regain his self-belief and discover his natural ability to work with animals. His time at the Sanctuary gave him the confidence to apply for an Equine Care Course at Myerscough College, and to come back to Only Foals and Horses Sanctuary as a volunteer.

Thomas had gone through a particularly upsetting time, shutting himself away in his bedroom for five and a half months. He only talked to people on the internet as this was easier than dealing with all the issues and stress caused by others.

Then, Police Community Support Officer, Laura Cruise, referred him on to The Prince's Trust Hyndburn Team, where he was interviewed by Samantha Whatmough. She recommended him for a 12-week placement at Only Foals and Horses Sanctuary, run in conjunction with Hyndburn Fire and Rescue Service.

At first, Thomas was nervous about the big horses and how they would react to him. He soon settled in though and was completing most yard duties each day with ease. His main duties were filling hay nets, sweeping the yard, brushing horses, leading them out and back in from the field and also going with another member of staff to check the ponies turned out for the summer.

He also counted the horses to make sure they were all there, looked them over for any signs of injury or ill health and checked that the fencing was as it should be. His particular favourites were Briony, a piebald mare, and our two donkeys, Nellie and Duncan.

Thomas's quiet approach and generally calm demeanour meant that the horses accepted him readily, and even seemed to seek his company, which in turn calmed and reassured them.

“The Sanctuary's stable team helped Thomas discover his natural ability to work with animals. The experience has given him the basis for self-belief, and a new insight into how his life could develop in the future. His time with the Sanctuary proves that the environment there, and the flexibility of experience offered, can be as beneficial to single individuals as to groups”.

Paul Kilham, Executive - Team Programme at The Prince's Trust

Now Thomas is hoping he will find a career opportunity working with animals. Watch the video to hear his story.