Our story

Stable Life provides a safe, nurturing and learning experience using the horse and its environment to help young people reach their full potential and achieve their aspirations and dreams.


What we do.

For most young people growing up is a fairly smooth and natural process but for others this couldn’t be further from reality. Stable Life supports vulnerable young people, aged 10 -18 years, on a referral basis. These young people are generally experiencing social, emotional and/or behavioural issues. A young person’s circumstances and related behaviour can often push them to feel isolated or excluded from their school and community.

This can lead to anti-social and risk taking behaviour, substance abuse, mistrust of adults and failure to reach their full potential. Stable Life helps young people to break the cycle of damaging behaviour or feelings of helplessness. We offer vulnerable youngsters a proven and trusted medium which encourages self reflection and promotes resilience. Confidence and motivation can flourish accompanied by an increase in communication and anger management skills. Our work is based on a model of Equine Assisted Learning developed into a person-centred package using the horse and its environment as a tool and learning medium to engage with the young person. Learn more about our work in our stories.

Young people are referred from across Scottish Borders from many agencies such as school, social work, NHS, school nurses, CAMHS and other voluntary agencies. Learn more in Referral Procedure. We have a team of disciplined and dedicated staff always ready to support young people and their families in either a group setting or on an individual basis in addition to a number of trained personnel from adult volunteers to peer mentors, all of whom support our Project Workers. Our peer mentors undertake extensive training and regularly give up time and friendship to others in Stable Life. They show great empathy and commitment to other young people who are going through difficult times. Their special support brings great benefits to all as they are able to provide respect, understanding and hope from someone who has travelled a similar path.

We support young people in their transition looking towards college and employment. This encompasses things like CV preparation, drafting personal statements, practical work experience opportunities which contribute towards building a young person’s self-esteem and confidence.


"Imposing yet gentle, perceptive yet non-judgemental, horses can help troubled teens gain essential insights into their inner demons and innate strengths."

– Hugh C. McBride


Children in Need 2017

Doddie is a true inspiration. He visited Stable Life last year and bravely took on new challenges to help him overcome personal tragedy.


We provide valuable opportunities and enhanced support to children and young people who are experiencing personal challenges.

Our history.

Stable Life grows from Strength to Strength
As Stable Life continued to grow from strength to strength and we evidenced the outcomes the young people achieved by participation as well as how well it complemented existing services, we researched the possibilities for future developments and the sustainability of the organisation and decided that the way forward was to make Stable Life the core service. In August 2013 we renamed the organisation Stable Life and in order to be able to deliver and develop the service better we secured a long term lease on a local riding centre and relocated office there. The lease has also given us opportunities to income generate through offering liveries and hiring out of the indoor and outdoor schools which will help with long term sustainability.

Relaunch as GYP Borders
We became a Company Limited by Guarantee and officially re-launched ourselves as GYP Borders – Giving Young People & Families Support. There were also significant developments in our programmes of intervention and they were structured into three distinct projects:

• Alternative Routes — learning skills for life
• Chance4Change—befriending/mentoring
• “Stable” Life – Equine Assisted Learning

Increased Scope of Work
The organisation continued to focus on developing partnerships between schools, social services and other agencies involved in the wellbeing of young people. This positive development witnessed growth and an increase in the scope of our work with more young people and their families benefiting from our programmes of intervention.

Growth & Development
In 1997, a Befriending Scheme was introduced and became an integral part of the services provided and complimented the existing range of services provided.

Gala Youth Project Formed
In the latter part of 1982 following a meeting of interested parties, a steering committee of Gala Youth Project was formed. The central aim of the Project was to bring together a variety of key voluntary and statutory agencies in a collaborative attempt to meet the needs of youngsters with specific difficulties, particularly in relation to truancy and offending. On 3 July 1985, Gala Youth Project officially opened.


Our stories.

Young Persons Achievements
“Without Stable Life and my carer I would not be here”

This is one of our young persons story whom we have supported and who has managed to turn their life around. It is their story in their own words about what they feel Stable Life means to them:

“When Stable Life started I was at home and not in school. I had no routine, we were always fighting mum and I and all I wanted to do was drink. I had no respect for myself; I felt so crap and scared and lived in a bubble and was stuck there by myself and felt like I was the only person in the world who felt like this. I used to think about killing myself and how long it would take before someone noticed I was not there but knew my dad would blame himself.

Without Stable Life and my carer I would not be here. I just drank and drank and I know now it wasn’t the best idea as I was destroying myself but I was crying out for help. I kicked off, really, really kicked off because I could not cope and wanted somebody to do something.

I remember always feeling scared, so scared for my family and whatever I did was wrong; it was my fault and my blame. I kicked off more and more cos I hoped someone would help me.

Without Stable life I would be on the dole in a flat or not here at all. It has been hard but I have had to make the mistakes I did to be where I am now. I am glad I got to carers and its bloody scary cos if I left now I would never get back and if I had not gone I would have no options for the future.

Stable Life is there for YOU! Whatever else doesn’t matter- you help so many kids like us and it’s amazing. I was thinking about doing something stupid like suicide but you were there for me. I have made real friends and I have so much more confidence and know where I want to go and be. I will jump on any horse now and understand a lot more about myself. Stable Life and my carer have changed my life.

I dealt with everything then by drinking more and more and without help I would not be here as I was destroying myself and damaging myself as had no respect. I was given respect and learned to trust and get some routine and just well – live. I can hardly believe how far I have come now I love my dad and my mum but sometimes she doesn’t like me very much. I hope that someday she will be proud of me.

I always stay later at the stables and at college to make sure it is done, I feel healthier and happier and know that stuffs hard but I believe in myself now and not scared to speak up and want people to know about Stable life cos it’s just well you know just amazing and I am so proud to be part of it”


13 year old
“I cannot express how valuable a service this is to all…”

As her anxiety began to lessen we would see her body soften and she would become more relaxed and comfortable as we progressed and became far more chatty and open.

A 13 year old female who was reported to have been selectively mute through nursery years, shy with anxiety present in primary years and ongoing concerns re welfare and non-attendance at High School and life at home was very chaotic at times. The family had engaged and disengaged with various agencies for short periods and this young person presented as very withdrawn, tired and pale and “disconnected” at times.

The referral to Stable Life was from the school following concerns and a home visit was carried out to meet the girl and the family. She appeared to be a quiet, shy, but caring young person with a love for animals, but very low self-esteem and little in the way of social skills. We discussed how Stable Life operated and a taster session was arranged and although quiet to begin with, her love of animals and the environment shone through.

Over the next few weeks we had some 1:1 sessions and the relationships with staff and animals began to grow. As her anxiety began to lessen we would see her body soften and she would become more relaxed and comfortable as we progressed and became far more chatty and open. As she became more confident her social skills started to develop and we started to incorporate small tasks “smile at someone in the class” and she engaged with eager anticipation. Her main anxiety remained around time, and consistency of these arrangements which we were respectful of and gave the family times etc. so they were also involved.

We slowly supported her into a weekly group session. She began to engage with other peers at stable life and we encouraged her to take home photos and crafts and to share these in school and at home. She started to talk of ‘friends’ more and her hours in school escalated from 2 hours per day to half days, eventually now onto full days.

She talks more freely now about her family and her increasing circle of friends that she has made at school, often friends with a common interest in horses. Her own self-esteem has grown and social skills progressed and by achieving tasks within the group she also is encouraged to take the lead which she feels good about. She has a favourite pony, ‘Cree’ that she rides and her relationship and trust in the pony is clear to see. She pushes herself to improve and complete tasks given and participates fully now in group games. Now that attendance has improved and her learning needs are able to be assessed and appropriate support will be given to help her achieve.

Feedback from agencies is very positive, quoting“I cannot express how valuable a service this is to all staff and very vulnerable young people. Stable Life staff involved always go the extra yard and in return they are rewarded with a superb working relationships with pupils and families who historically have some fears around school and some statutory services. All parties are very appreciative of the work they do.”

She is now able to manage some of her anxieties and uses strategies which she has learned into transferable life skills and has shown great courage to change and turn her life around.


Young Person, Age 15
“Consistently proving himself…when it comes to work”

B is a 15 -year old boy, who has been in the care system since 18 months old, due to the consequences of parental substance abuse and was moved to a foster family in the Scottish Borders.

B was severely traumatised and neglected when he was placed into the care of his current long term foster parents. They were told that he would never walk or talk or be able to attend mainstream school.

B was initially referred to us age 11, when struggling in school. He was diagnosed as having ADHD, and delayed personal development, understandably suffered with relationship issues, anger issues and poor social skills, particularly with peers.

We began to work with B on a weekly basis in a small group. B always tried so very hard and always wanted to please. You could tell he struggled socially but in a supported environment, settled with the others and his skills began to develop. There were times where he could become rather raised, but he accepted the boundaries and adapted well. He needed constant monitoring regarding impulsiveness but again adapted and stuck to boundaries. His confidence began to grow and he developed a belief in himself that he could achieve what others could. After his initial spell at Stable Life B would be invited back to holiday activity sessions and would never fail to attend. He went on to participate in our Environmental Group (outdoor learning, den building etc) and turned up even in freezing temperatures.

B has now gone on become part of a football team, which was a huge hurdle in the past due to his struggle to handle any decisions against him.

Now 15, school approached us regarding a work experience week. Initially it was thought that he may struggle as he potentially needed a high level of supervision. We agreed the placement and he started on a couple of hours, build up to half days then on to full days by the end of his time. B absolutely blew the Yard Manager away with his diligence, hard work and taking on responsibilities, showed he could be trusted and always completed tasks. To send him back to school with a glowing report was such a huge achievement considering the boy we first met.

B now volunteers on the yard at the weekends, consistently proving himself as a real grafter when it comes to work, and can be trusted to complete tasks, and always looking for more to do. He helps with our ‘Tiny Totters’ (junior riders under 5), and has a lovely way with them, always encouraging, with a touch of his own sense of humour to put them at ease. He is highly regarded by the yard staff and peer volunteers. For B to feel accepted and part of something has really continued to improve his confidence and self-esteem which was very much lacking when he first set foot on the Yard. He loves his riding and his skills have been seen to improve greatly and enjoys his lessons and rides over the hills as his reward for his hard work. He has a really special bond with a pony called Paddy which he absolutely adores.

B continues to strive to better himself and looks forward with goals and aspiration, and disproving the expectations initially given. He is a bright funny boy, whom with the right family around him, and added support from organisations like Stable Life who do not judge, but accept what we see and nurture and encourage, there is no stopping children like B.



Referral Procedure

Stable Life accepts appropriate referrals from education, social services, NHS, Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services, locality Integrated Childrens Service, other voluntary agencies, family/carers & young people themselves. This process includes an assessment of need for the individual young person and this includes a home visit. Stable Life is led very much by the young person’s needs and the young people who participate do this by choice.

Stable Life referrals are priority led and whilst we would love to support every young person, this is not always possible as we run at capacity and have a waiting list, however we endeavour to support as we can. With an experienced group of trained staff who support young individual(s) and family in group settings or if preferred, a 1 to 1 basis it is never to soon for support. Please, do not hesitate to contact us with any queries.

By offering a safe and confidential support system, we enable young people to discuss their current situation and empower them to develop positive coping strategies.

To find out more about our services and how these could help the young people in your life please contact us, or download our referral form below.


"Stable Life has had a good positive effect on my daughter. I noticed over time X had a respect for the staff and listened to them. She would come home after her time at “Stable Life” sounding happier and more positive."

Parent of Young Person

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