Luke McGlinchey struggles to concentrate in the classroom but has found his niche out in the paddocks.

The 14-year-old, who has autism, has developed his confidence and communication skills by working with ponies at an equine centre in Broughton Gifford.

He has been on day release from Hardenhuish School in Chippenham to Wiltshire Equine Assisted Learning every week since October.

The not-for-profit organisation offers personal learning services for children who are experiencing difficulties with traditional schooling.

Luke has just received a nationally recognised horse management qualification in grooming and wants to study agriculture at college.

His mum Tracey, 44, of Cepen Park North, said: “He had a whale of a time and he has a lot more confidence in day-to-day things.

“School doesn’t work for everybody – Luke has good days and bad days. Sometimes children need to be outside running around and that’s Luke.”

Alison Smith, of Wiltshire Equine Assisted Learning, said: “By doing this and then reflecting on what they did and how the horse responds, children are able to learn about themselves and increase their self awareness and confidence.

“Luke sometimes struggles a bit in the classroom, but get him out there with those ponies and he’s an absolute joy.”

Caroline Pearce, nurture coordinator at Hardenhuish School, said: “Luke has worked extremely hard creating a fantastic portfolio of work on his understanding of horse handling.”

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