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Youth Development
Schools and Youth Organisations


"A mind that is stretched to a  new experience can never go back to its old dimensions"
- O.W. Holmes Jnr



Our skill development programs are taught by horses. They prepare youth to take on the challenges that life throws at them and  to move forward through adversity to opportunity. Our programs foster inclusion and the development of meaningful and healthy relationships, as well as supporting young people to develop the skills needed to overcome the barriers of engagement. 

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Imagine What the Future Would Be Like if We Prepared Our Youth With Skills for Life?

"The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow" - Nelson Mandela. Children and teens who participate in any of the hands on, experiential youth programs will be actively working on developing the five competencies of social emotional learning:

1. Self Awareness

2. Self Management

3. Social Awareness

4. Relationship Skills

5. Responsible Decision Making

At Leading Change Experiences, the sessions with the horses are centered around principles (create; experience; integrate; self reflect; empower) which guide our young people to integrate the social emotional competencies into their everyday life. Partnering with the horses allows students to engage with learning in a way that connects both their hearts and minds.

Our programs utilise the well-researched and result driven BuildingBlock™ Curriculum which is designed to experience a continual building of skills over the consecutive weeks. Each program/session focuses on a different life skill or objective but due to the nature of the BuildingBlock™ process, the objectives are continually worked on within each session, maximising retention and results. The teachings from the horses are so unique and powerful that at the completion of the program, our youth are armed with an empowered mindset, clearer self worth, a heightened level of awareness of themselves and others and solid new skills to assist them both in continuing their personal growth as well as navigating their way through challenges. As students develop their understanding of these life principles and experience self development, they contribute to positively changing the culture of the school and community on a macro level. This program is approved by the Calgary Board Of Education in Canada and is becoming more widely recognised in Australia. 

What our young people learn is important, however, what they remember is priceless.
Horses have the ability to teach our teens how to think outside of themselves.

Schools and Youth Services


The 6-8 week teenage leadership development program has a strong focus on developing leadership attributes and competencies that empower the individual to confidently lead their lives. This program promotes character development and develops self-aware students. The teachings from the horse's assist in equipping teenagers with knowledge and skills to increase their emotional intelligence, confidence, self esteem, teamwork and ability to overcome challenges and adversity. Students will learn to strengthen and practice their leadership qualities and attributes as they engage with other students at school, community members, and how to move forward with integrity. Students will learn the importance of focus, the power of their intention, empowered decision making, the awareness of building healthy and self-serving relationships, communication, the concept of pressure and release, articulation and active listening, appropriate assertiveness, trust, respect and accountability.

Year Level Suitability: Grades 7 to 12 and Sporting Teams

Session Frequency: Weekly

Session Duration: 1.5 hours

Total Number of Sessions: 6-8 


While for many students the prospect of transitioning from primary to high school; to upper high school or finishing high school brings excitement and positive wonder. For many other students this transition (centered around big changes and uncertainty) causes a lot of anxiety, fear and painful self doubt. The transition with horses program promotes both practical interpersonal skills development and the building of self confidence. The program guides students toward a growth mindset and having the confidence to have open and clear communication so that they can express their needs, their feelings and to be able to ask for guidance when needed. Horses support the students growth and development in the areas of problem solving skills, the power of their focus and intention, relationship building and how to consider "changes" and "transitions" in their life from a more philosophical standpoint. The horses help the children develop self leadership competencies so that they can mentally and emotionally start to be their own leader of their thoughts, feelings and actions not only through these times of change, but also on a daily basis. As part of this program, we do include some calming strategies for when the children's or teen's anxiety heightens. 

Year Level Suitability: Grade 6, Grade 9 and Grade 12

Session Frequency: Weekly

Session Duration: 1.5 hours

Total Number of Sessions: 6-8


Our youth engagement program provides an alternative and safe experiential learning opportunity for disengaging youth or youth at risk. The initial 5 year research study, "The Helping Horse", that is behind these programs was based on how EAL contributes to the wellbeing of Indigenous youth in treatment for volatile substance misuse (a copy of the study is available). The youth engagement program is accessible to the Adelaide, Hills, Fleurieu and Murray Mallee regions. This program focuses on developing a range of life skills, emotional wellbeing, confidence and connection. 

It emphasises creating whole health and balance for every individual and a connection with nature. The program supports emotional, mental, physical and spiritual growth. 

Horses are ideal natural guides and teachers for our young people. There is a strong sense of empowerment, wonder and respect that takes place when teens work alongside a 500kg teacher. Given that horses are prey animals and are hard wired with fight or flight responses, youth at risk find horses very relatable. 

Once a teen is taught the basics of handling a horse, the young person what kind of leader the horse needs them to be. When the horse feels safe, cooperation is a hundredfold and the participant can build on the relationship with the horse and his/her team. Teens are successfully able to parallel the lessons and objectives reached through the exercises, back to their real life situation. This helps retention of the insights and lessons from the horses which they can continue to draw on the life skills they learnt through the programs, well into their future.

Year Level Suitability: Grades 6 to 12

Session Frequency: Weekly

Session Duration: 1.5 hours

Total Number of Sessions: 6-8

with horses

with horses

with horses

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The objectives of  the
Youth Development programs

Building Relationships

Skill Development


Listening & Articulation

Problem Solving





Body Language

Team Building

School and Youth Organisation Programs are featured in the Australian Education Reporter. Leading Edge Life Skills is the facility where Jess gained her EAL facilitation accredition. Click on the image to read the article, scroll to page 37.

Newspaper | working with horses

“The Equine Assisted Learning experience was a great program for our kids. The students were eager to participate and share their experiences with others. Teachers have noticed and commented on these students being more assertive, communicating their needs better and they seem more resilient when confronted by problems or obstacles. Parents have also provided positive feedback saying they have noticed a change in their children, even in such a short time.”

- Lois Martin, teacher, Alberta.

Give your students the skills necessary to ultimately better prepare your children to take on the challenges that life throws at them.

One of the many bonuses of working with horses in a natural session vs a classroom setting is the component of interactivity because we all learn differently, but we can all take away lessons that we learn through our experiences. Our program is the only Nationally Recognised Equine Assisted Learning Program in Canada, and delivers the same results here in Australia. Students will;


  • develop relationships

  • accept responsibility and accountability

  • overcome barriers to find change

  • be encouraged to be creative and innovative

  • find opportunity in working together

  • realise the benefits associated with effective communication

and recognise the value of mutual trust, respect, and personal integrity...

All while having a blast!

Equine Assisted Learning acts as an important educational tool to help to develop empathy and kindness as well as combat;



Behavioural Disorders

Low Self Esteem


Drug Abuse

Emotional Issues

Poor Communication Skills

Inability To Work With Others


Horses consistently model assertiveness and teach us how.

Horses can't lie or over think a participants motive.

Horses feedback is honest and instant

Nature provides them with instincts and senses that are very astute.

Help to instill empathy and kindness in the participants.

Horses have natural "herd " that require trust, respect, and teamwork from all members of the team.behaviours

Horses automatically respond to confusion and frustration as these feelings can put the herd at risk.

They lead through assuredness - not brute force.

Horses have distinct personalities and through this, they all have different methods of teaching.


That the more senses that are engaged, the greater the likelihood that new learning will be retained. The more we involve learners, the more senses are engaged, thereby increasing the probability that they will learn, retain, and apply what they have learned.


An alternative to traditional education. Emphasising self-responsibility, participative education attempts to involve the student in experiences relevant to his future and to provide him with the opportunity and methodology for learning from these experiences. Students would be allowed to develop self-reliance, self-confidence, and increased self-esteem, and would leave school better equipped for lifelong, continued learning.

“Experiential Learning” was made popular by education theorist David A. Kolb, who, along with Ron Fry, developed the experiential learning theory, which is based on the idea that learning is a process whereby knowledge is created through transformation of experience and “learning through reflection on doing”.

    Please arrange a call with Jess at Leading Change Experiences. Jess believes that every young person has the right to learn how to strengthen his or her self development through learning life skills. She will discuss your budget and find a solution for your students or young people to be able to participate.
    Please give Jess a call to discuss. There may be community or education grants available. Jess is in the process of becoming an SA Sports Voucher Provider and this could be used toward a program or one day workshop.
    Transportation is the responsibility of the school/organisation. We have a map and directions on our contact us page. Most participants are brought out in two vehicles by chaperones or teachers as this is the most cost effective method of transportation. Leading Change Experiences is pinned on Google Maps. We are 15-20 minutes from Mt Barker, 8 minutes from Strathalbyn and 45-50 minutes from Adelaide.
    Building Block Curriculum Program Sessions: . Orientation and Horse Safety Demo are added on to the children and teens first session, so this pushes the first session out to 2 hours. All weekly sessions thereafter run for 1.5 hours in length. Day-long workshops generally run from 9am to 3pm.
    We provide all of the equipment for the program, you are just in charge of wearing clothes that you don't mind getting a little dirty and closed-toed shoes. We ask each child to bring a named water bottle, a snack, a hat or rain coat. Please ensure they wear weather appropriate clothing. The main requirement is the young peoples' foot wear. Closed in shoes are a must. Occasionally a horse can step on a participants foot, even though we cover as many measures as possible to prevent this.
    We will send you the registration forms for the participants and an insurance waiver that is standard for all equine activities. The waiver form must be signed before any student participates. Please include any relevant medical information as part of your registration.
    We do ask that 1-2 teachers or staff members accompany the group during the program.
    We do not ride any horses here as part of the programs. We only work with horses on the ground in their natural state. All of our work is out of the saddle. You will work alongside the horses as part of your team rather than as a tool. This way the horse can be its true self and not be "on the job". This allows for the best and true response from the horse and the most beneficial way of learning for you. Please let your children and teens know that they will not be riding the horses to prevent disappointment. They will however, get to connect with horses in an amazing way.
    Jess runs group sizes from 3 to a maximum of 6 participants. Upon request, Jess can discuss running a group size up to 8 participants. However it's important to Jess that each student gets the most hands-on time with the horses, so she encourages a maximum of 6 participants per group. If you are enquiring about larger numbers, please discuss your requirements with Jess so that she can work out a plan for you.
    No prior horse experience is necessary. We will inform every group of the rules and safety precautions to take around the horses and the arena. We always put safety first, but we can accommodate everyone's different comfort levels around the horses. The first session is an introductory session where we learn all about the horse, how they communicate with us, how we communicate with them, and learn and apply basic horse handling skills.
    I support each individual on their journey. With some safe nurturing guidance, all participants have developed their courage to end up working closely with the horses. We work on the young peoples' mindset and their perspective. We use breathing techniques and grounding techniques when needed. We chat about how learning and growing ourselves requires us to build an understanding of how we benefit from Ieaning into our fears and extending our comfort zones. This is an opportunity for young people to overcome their fears or preconceived notions. This experience for anyone who is fearful, parallels the real world challenge of how we manage ourselves through uncertainty. When the young people work through their fears with the horses, this transfers directly over to how they approach uncertainty in their personal lives. It's hugely empowering.
    If an unexpected weather event is forecast, we will be in contact to reschedule your program. We will not run if the forecast is over 33 degrees, or if it is forecast to be too windy or wet. We limit programs over the winter months. Youth programs are only offered during Terms 1 and 4.

Contact us today for your information pack for your school, organisation or our private Youth sessions.

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