On Tuesday March 4th, both staff and learners at Ballincollig Youthreach were treated to a visit from ‘Doodles’, a miniature therapy horse. Doodles’ owner, Katarina O’Donoghue, gave a talk to the learners on the topics of horse care and animal cruelty. The visit was organised as part of the FETAC level three classes’ Communications Folder. During the forty minute talk, in which the class was allowed to interact with Doodles, learners discovered the merits of approaching this sensitive animal in a calm and gentle manner. Learners were given the opportunity to groom Doodles and even to give him a pedicure! The different terminology for the horse’s anatomy was introduced during the class talk, as well importance of treating these animals well. The visit provided an opportunity for learners to communicate with Doodles, who is also trained as a therapy horse. According to Katrina, such experiences have been proven to decrease levels of stress, anxiety and aggression, while increasing confidence and self esteem in people. The visit offered learners an opportunity to become informed on the issues of animal cruelty, while gaining hands on experience in aspects of horse care. “The visit from Doodles really grasped our learners’ attention. It gave us the chance to integrate learning with the novelty of having a horse in the classroom!” said Claire Philpott, communications teacher at Ballincollig Youthreach.