Charity Spotlight - Horses Helping Humans Taranaki

Charity Spotlight - Horses Helping Humans Taranaki

CHARLIE ROAD is delighted to be supporting Horse Helping Humans Taranaki! Horses Helping Humans™ is an internationally recognised, award-winning programme which empowers vulnerable youth/rangatahi, providing them with lifelong skills to proactively manage anxiety, anger, stress and pressure.

We interviewed Laura Menzies, lead facilitator at Horses Helping Humans Taranaki to find out a bit more about this amazing charity…

What does Horses Helping Humans do?

Horses Helping Humans™was developed by Sue Spence of Australia in 2006. Specific horsemanship exercises (no riding involved), are used to teach rangatahi how they can adjust their breathing and their body language to keep themselves calm, improving their assertive communication skills and enabling them to make good decisions when under pressure. Rangatahi also learn how to communicate clear boundaries with their body language and how to regulate their energy levels and their emotions through controlling their own breathing. 

Rangatahi gain a better understanding of people and find it empowering to realise that although everyone is different, we each have an important role to play.  This improved self-awareness and awareness of others further strengthens their ability to connect with those around them.

We work with young people aged 8 to 19 years from across the Taranaki region and they attend in groups of up to 4. Each participant is paired with a hōiho (horse) and a kaiako (facilitator) for a total of 6 hours. We work closely with referrers (schools and youth agencies) to tailor the programme to meet the individual needs of each participant. Our programme is delivered using a trauma informed approach and it aims to incorporate a Te Ao Māori approach to support and be more relatable to rangatahi o Aotearoa. It has proven results with young people experience challenges such as anxiety, low self confidence, aggression and youth justice.

How did you get involved with HHH Taranaki?

I've worked as a youth worker with high needs rangatahi since 2012. It had always been a dream of mine to combine my two passions - horses and youth work. After hearing about Sue's HHH programme, myself and some of our trustees went to see HHH in action in the Gold Coast in 2017 and were blown away by the positive transformation we observed in the participants.  We then began the journey to establish HHH in Taranaki and opened in 2020.

What is your proudest/most memorable moment with HHH Taranaki?

It's hard to specify one moment, there are so many stand outs.  I love seeing each young person's self worth increase throughout the programme - they stand up taller, their shoulders back and make eye contact.  Their body language becomes open and relaxed.  Not only do they look more confident, but they FEEL more confident.  They change from being shy and withdrawn to confidently speaking in the group, sharing examples of how they are using the HHH tools in their everyday lives.  It's so empowering for them to understand that they have the ability to make small adjustments to their breath and body language, when they feel under stress or pressure, to regulate themselves so they can think clearly during these times. Watching the beautiful partnerships that each participant builds with their hōiho makes my heart melt with pride.

What’s next for HHH Taranaki?

We will be having an open day in the Taranaki Garden Festival on Saturday 28th October and Saturday 4th November where the community can come and meet our amazing herd and tour our new venue.  For more details visit
Come mid-December, we would have worked with 136 high needs young people throughout 2023, 110 of whom we found funding to complete our HHH programme free of charge.  We want to keep expanding our profile in the community so that we can continue to source funding for young people in need to attend our HHH programme.

Find out more...go to Horses Helping Humans Taranaki

To donate go to


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.