Long Sutton teacher and her ponies make a difference to school children
A former headteacher is combining her two passions of education and equines in a new venture.
Rachel Hartopp is taking her two ponies, Solo and Bunny, into schools to support youngsters' learning.
Since launching Berryfields Animal Assisted Education and Consultancy, Rachel has been working with a number of Fenland schools.
Animals have been proven to help support children's learning along with increasing motivation, wellbeing and improving negative behaviour.
Rachel (42), of Long Sutton, said: "I am really interested in the impact animals can have on wellbeing, mental health and education.
"Earlier this year I just decided to take a leap of faith and try to join my two passions of education and equines together."
With 19 years of teaching experience under her belt, Rachel has put together packages which are in line with the National Curriculum and the Early Years Framework.
During the sessions, Rachel teaches the youngsters about horse handling, grooming and other groundwork while also bringing in topics like Maths.
The sessions will build up to an obstacle course which will be designed by the children. Rachel is also building some of the obstacles.
Rachel, who is hoping to add her donkey Betsy to the team later, said: "By going into schools, we take away some of the barriers for children with additional needs.
"For those children who are disengaged, it is always beneficial.
"I like to see children be the best they can be and recognising that there are no limits. You can achieve if you set your mind to it.
"Seeing the interactions between children and the ponies is sometimes quite overwhelming and we are getting good feedback from parents."
Friday Bridge Primary School headteacher Sophie Foston said her pupils loved a visit from Solo and Rachel.
Mrs Foston has also praised the team for the difference they have made to her son Finlay (10), who has autism.
She said: "It is lovely to see him being successful and having the interactions with the ponies which he doesn't have with people."
For more information on the services go to: www.berryfieldsanimalassistededucation.co.uk