Have you ever touched an animal and come away feeling calmer, stronger, and just generally better able to handle life?
The Healing with Horses Therapeutic Centre aims to offer that sort of moment on a regular basis to disadvantaged and disabled children and adults in Bulawayo. At the moment, the Centre is working with children from the Sandra Jones Centre and from the KGVI Centre.
The Centre is a non-profit, voluntary organization with 12 trained ponies and horses. We rely on the kindness of others, including voluntary help, donations and sponsorships to help those in need.
Imagine a life without full control of your muscles, a life where every step and every gesture is a challenge.
And now imagine getting on a horse, feeling the warm rhythmic motion loosen your tight muscles. Imagine finally understanding that movement need not always be difficult.
At the Healing with Horses Therapeutic Centre we work with a lot of children who have cerebral palsy. CP is a weakness or lack of muscle control that originates in the brain with the result of stiffness, slowness, shakiness and difficult in balance.
The key to therapy on horseback lies in the movement of a horse. As a horse walks, its center of gravity is displaced three-dimensionally with a movement that is very similar to the action of the human pelvis during gait. The warmth of the horse in conjunction with this movement helps riders relax and teaches their muscles the rhythmical patterns of walking. Their muscles are strengthened by increased use and the exercises stimulate coordination, concentration and memory.
Horses naturally motivate children to move, explore and touch. This natural desire and the reciprocal interaction from a non-judgmental accepting being creates a feeling of safety, achievement, confidence and above all joy in our riders.
Therapy on horseback is not just for people with CP. Children and adults suffering from autism, down syndrome, vision impairment, post-traumatic stress disorder, physical and emotional abuse and depression can all benefit from sustained interaction with horses.