This is a specialist physiotherapy intervention that uses the 3 dimensional movement of the horse in walk to correct and improve movement, balance, core strength, in the person on the horse. It has been shown to benefit children with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, brain and spinal cord injuries and many other people with movement disorders. Research has shown that the functional ability of these people improves following a course of Hippotherapy and can be maintained over a follow up period. Children with autism and other learning disabilities have also benefited from this form of therapy.
Therapeutic riding involves the person receiving instruction in horsemanship and riding skills and involves combining teaching skills with fun activities. The progressive rhythmic motion of the horse provides therapeutic benefit as it stimulates the muscles in the rider to help with core strength and balance. The movement of the horse is found to be similar to that of the human pelvis. Exercises taught can improve flexibility, hand eye co-ordination, concentration and has also been found to improve self esteem, problem solving and communication skills. The specialist skills of our team who have experience in healthcare, special education needs and education allows us to cater for all children with additional needs where a normal riding school may not have the expertise to cope.
Equine Assisted Therapy
This uses the interaction with the horse to promote physical and emotional well-being. This usually does not involve sitting on the horse, just being around the horse. A relationship with a horse can offer challenges to overcome fears, build up trust, respect, compassion, develop communication skills, problem solving and coping techniques, self confidence and self-esteem. These skills are transferable to many other areas of ordinary life.
Equine Facilitated Learning
Equine Facilitated learning utilises the horse-human interaction together with a coaching-based approach and can help improve the anxiety and lack of confidence that are common problems with stress, anxiety and other mental health concerns. It is a unique learning experience where the horses are active participants, no prior riding experience is necessary as it is not performed on the horse. During the interaction with the horse, their natural responses provide immediate feedback to the actions and behaviour of the participant, facilitating improved self awareness. Some of the activities involve ground work exercises in an arena that help build a relationship with the horse, improve confidence and self esteem. These sessions involve a cycle of instruction, response, reflection and feedback which enables the participant to communicate with the horse in a way that the horse understands through body language and movement. Working with the horse van be hugely rewarding and empowering to promote a positive change in each individual. The tranquillity, peace and natural environment that each individual experiences when they visit REACH assists in providing a safe place to process their feelings and address each of their individual challenges in a fun, relaxed and non judgemental way.
Tea with a Pony
We have two miniature Shetland ponies who can also travel and are available for visits to schools, care homes, day centres, special needs centres and rehabilitation settings.
This is an activity that involves a fulfilling and enriching experience with our horses/ponies for people living with life changing conditions for whom horse riding may not be suitable but who might be helped with some other form of animal assisted activity involving horses. This activity is specifically aimed at participants and their carer/family to involve the whole unit. This activity utilises the pony experience, being around our horses who are quiet and friendly and love being fussed, through patting, stroking, cuddling, brushing. This is a highly sensory and emotional experience. Making a new friend can help with confidence, relationship building, communication, social interaction and promote relaxation and wellbeing. The centre is set in beautiful surroundings and can also involve a hands off approach of just watching the ponies and enjoying our natural environment.
Educational Support Services and Qualifications
We are currently in the process of having an Education room installed here at our centre. Our aim is to be able to provide an alternative educational provision to students in the area who do not attend main stream school, based around horses and stable management. We are also supported through the RDA to provide various ASDAN programmes including Animal care, RDA proficiency tests and Endeavour awards.
To support our aim and value statement we can also provide support to the public that wish to learn and further their qualifications in horse care and physiotherapy. The centre will provide an opportunity to have work experience students from animal care courses at local colleges, physiotherapy students and school children for work experience and community based voluntary work.
In addition, we will offer Special Educational Needs schools regular weekly opportunity to either bring their children to the centre as part of an extracurricular activity and or have a pat therapy session at the school. Such activities will provide an alternative to the usual curricular programme.