Students at Keyham Lodge School in Leicester have written to tell us of their love for their ponies and how they now have a better understanding of the role horses, mules and donkeys have played in war, and the meaning of the purple poppy…
Staff member, Joanne Wilson says : “We have two ponies Fly and Tarka who live out their retirement being pampered and fussed by our students as well as providing a source of therapy and opportunity for learning. Some of our students may have quite hectic lives. By being with Fly and Tarka they learn how to be calm, to consider their own body language as that is after all how horses communicate with each other. Through grooming and caring for them it gives them the opportunity to relax and they can succeed in something that they would not normally have experienced. Some of our year 10 & 11 students are on an equestrian pathway and are working towards gaining the BHS stage 1 qualification. We can look at the Care part of the qualification with Fly and Tarka and work through it in both a practical and academic manner. For the riding section of the qualification they attend lessons at a local riding school and are coming on really well. One of our students has also completed work experience at a very big and busy riding centre. She left that week with a glowing report from all staff that they would happily employ her in the future. We believe strongly that by helping our students to get these qualifications and giving them such opportunities they have a great chance to gain employment or enrol in college courses when they leave us.
“Last week we looked at what the purple poppy is and what it stands for. It provided a great talking point. We had two students who worked very hard in getting our hairy, muddy ponies looking smart and ready for their photos with their poppies on. We were planning on visiting a war memorial in a local park but due to the current restrictions we have not been able to go as yet.
The memorial is to a horse called Songster who served in the first world war and was lucky enough to survive and be returned to live out his days in a village in Leicestershire. We read about his story which is truly remarkable.”
At War Horse Memorial we were delighted to receive this wonderful message from Joanne and the students of Keyham Lodge. The healing power of horses is well documented. Horses make great companions because they can mirror and respond to human behaviour. They can also hear the human heartbeat within four feet, and research on heart-rate variability indicates that horses have a profound ability to synchronize their own heartbeat with that of human beings. We think that Fly and Tarka look splendid in their purple poppies – and well done to the two students who worked so hard to groom them. We are so pleased that, when COVID-19 rules allow, children and staff will be visiting the war memorial dedicated to Songster. He was a truly remarkable horse; in fact he is Horse number 7 in our 100 Hero Horses hall of fame. The people of Loughborough came together on June 29, 2019 – Armed Forces Day – to see 12-year old Lewis Main unveil an armature, an open-framed sculpture, of Songster, the town’s most famous war horse. He was draped in a cloak of purple poppies as you can see and we were honoured to be invited. It stands in the shadows of the Carillion Tower, in Queen’s Park, which is a unique and iconic memorial built in 1923 to commemorate all those who lost their lives in World War One. You can read more about him on our website and in a book about his life which is available to buy for £6.99 from the Charnwood Museum (Queen’s Park, Loughborough).