Equestrian club helps disabled people form friendships
A unique non-riding session at Four Winds Equestrian Centre has enabled disabled people to gain social skills and improve their well-being.
The new Friday Morning club allows attendees to spend time with horses without the pressure of taking to the saddle. Members of the club enjoy a range of activities including grooming and pony painting.
Kirsty Sweeney from the centre explains how the idea for the club was born: “I met a lady who had been around horses all her life and had even run a riding school at one point. About seven years ago she had a major stroke and lost movement down the right hand side of her body and it also badly affected her speech.
“All she wanted to do was to be with horses again, to stroke them and groom them. It got me thinking that there must be lots of other people like her out there that would like the same thing and the more I looked into it, speaking to local carers and social prescribers, the group slowly started to form.”
Although still in its early stages the club now runs every other Friday morning between 10.30 and 11.30. Taking in to all needs the riding yard is closed and quieter, to help individuals who can easily become over-whelmed in large groups of people or noisy environments.
As well as spending time with the ponies, there is a chance to socialise with other families over a drink and a snack. Also in attendance is emotional support dog, Theo who lends a paw to anyone who needs him.
Kirsty continued: “One of our participants is non-verbal but will talk loudly and clearly whenever he is communicating with the ponies. It also helps with attention span and focus and is a great sensory experience for individuals who are deaf and blind.”
The club has had a positive effect outside the meetings, as members are spending time together outside of club times. Families and carers have also formed social media networks to support each other.
For more information contact Four Winds Equestrian Centre on 01775 640533.