IN Racing
Go Racing helping kids Stand Tall with Annarehab
“During the course we teach the kids to set and maintain personal boundaries, use their backbone, and stand up for themselves using our horses."
LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | March 04, 2024

Go Racing are getting behind Annarehab’s new Stand Tall programme, which uses equine therapy to help children either affected by bullying or showing signs of bullying.

The programme, designed by the Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) Network, has already helped numerous children around the globe and it is now helping Kiwi kids in the Hauraki region through Annarehab.

“There is a school liaison officer who visits all the schools in the Hauraki Plains and works with counselling and special assistance teams, and she has identified children from various schools and recommended them to us for the program,” Annarehab’s Anna Baigent said.

“It has been used a lot for kids in high-risk areas of joining gangs and they’ve had really positive outcomes because as kids get older it teaches them how to say no and to de-escalate. They’ve found with older teens it’s a useful tool for them to be able to say no calmly and mean it because they have that mana on the inside.

“During the course we teach the kids to set and maintain personal boundaries, use their backbone, and stand up for themselves using our horses.

“They have to navigate the horses through a bunch of obstacles and maintain their personal space.

“Horses are quite smoochy animals so if they can convince a 600-700kg horse to get out of their personal space they can probably convince a person to as well.

“Our horses also don’t respond at all to yelling and we have a lot of kids, and people in general, who will yell to maintain a boundary because they think that it makes them bigger, but they’re still very small on the inside. The programme teaches the kids to have integrity on the inside rather than projecting their voice from a place of fear.

“You can back up a horse just by standing up straight and putting your shoulders back, really feeling confident in yourself and taking up space. That’s another big thing, a lot of these kids are afraid to take up space and use their bodies. It’s amazing to see the difference in their bodies throughout the course. They come in quite slouched over and they leave standing a lot taller, which is I guess why they called the programme Stand Tall.”

The first cycle of Stand Tall at Annarehab is underway, with eight children aged 8-15 years old having already completed the first two weeks of the programme, which takes place on Sundays at the Baigents’ Miranda property.

“The course is usually eight weeks, but we’ve condensed this one into six weeks because we wanted to fit it into to term one of school which is shorter,” Baigent said.

Go Racing and their syndicate members are sponsoring the eight children who are currently taking part in the course.

“Anna and her team do an incredible job and we’re really happy to be able to contribute to the work they are doing,” Go Racing’s Matt Allnutt said. “Not only are they providing a meaningful life after racing to former racehorses but they’re making a real difference in these kids’ lives and their wider community too.

“There has been a big emphasis placed on the welfare of horses and industry participants in recent times and we are proud of the way our horses are managed post their racing careers and it’s great being involved with Annarehab. To potentially help young people who are struggling is an added benefit that our clients are more than happy to help out with.”

While Baigent and her team facilitate the Stand Tall programme, she admits that the real teachers are the horses, which includes former Go Racing charges Seize the Moment, Passing Shot and Sexabeel.

“The horses are really enjoying it too, which is great,” she said.

“Passing Shot is incredibly gentle which is unexpected given that he wasn’t gelded until he was seven and he looked like he was a handful when he was a racehorse. He’s gone from that to being incredibly soft and gentle now.

“Seize the Moment is really particular about who he likes and what he will do and he won’t do a damn thing he doesn’t want to do, he’s very strong in his no. So, I was surprised that he wanted to come in and be involved in the programme. He usually doesn’t like being brushed but on Sunday he stood there and enjoyed it while the kids fawned over him for 20 minutes, it was amazing.”

Baigent said the support provided by Go Racing is crucial to the programme.

“We have a parent with two kids in the programme who couldn’t afford to have them in the programme otherwise, so it has had a huge impact. Over the years Go Racing have been good supporters of ours which means so much to us and the participants and their generosity has been great,” she said.

“There is a cost involved and even though we are local, we’re still 30-45 minutes’ drive out of these guys way, so the petrol adds up as well.”

Baigent hopes to run the course alongside each school term going forward and there’s the potential to travel the horses further afield to help even more children in the future.

Anyone wanting to learn more about the Stand Tall programme can visit

Annarehab Go Racing Anna Baigent Matt Allnutt Seize The Moment Sexabeel Passing Shot stand tall programme