Healing With Horses is a registered trust in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Mission Statement: To heal children and communities in Zimbabwe through Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies.
Why do children and communities in Zimbabwe need to be healed? In most areas in Zimbabwe, disabilities are viewed with fear and superstition by the majority of the community. A child with a disability will be hidden away from the community and will not be allowed to join in with the rest of the family. You will often find children locked away in rooms or cupboards because of the shame their families think they bring to them. Parents feel that they are being punished for some previous misdemeanour if they give birth to a child with a disability or a special need. Although there is a lot more awareness, especially in the main cities, Healing with Horses would like to change this superstition, to remove the stigma, by creating awareness within the communities of Zimbabwe. To place these children in the centre of the community into which they were born, but to which they have never belonged, allowing them to contribute to the community, and bring peace to the community. How much peace will the parents of these children feel when they realise that the community welcomes their special needs child, and indeed, values them for the part they can play in the community. In this way, by creating awareness, we would like to heal children and communities in Zimbabwe.
Looking at the second half of our Mission Statement, what is Equine Assisted Activity and Therapy? This is a world renowned form of therapy. It helps people with disabilities, special needs, cognitive disorders, trauma, stress, behavioural issues, eating disorders, addictions, low self-esteem, and anything else you can think of. In fact, even if you are just having a bad day, Healing with Horses is the place to come to, in order to re-balance and find your centre once again. Gain perspective and get your priorities right, your ducks (chickens, geese, goats or horses) in a row. Go back to your every day life with the ability to cope.
How does it work?
The horse walks with a three dimensional movement, up and down, side to side, forwards and backwards, and this a simulation of the walk of a person. So, if a child has a physical disability, we first of all place them as close to the warmth and comfort of the horse as we can, with the use of a bareback pad, or a numnah, no saddle. The pad makes it more comfortable for horse and rider, without putting the distance between them that a saddle does. The warmth of the horse can come through the pad into the body of the child, warming up, softening and relaxing the muscles so that they can move freely with the horse, and the horse can work it’s wonders. As the horse walks the muscles and body of the child are moved and thoroughly exercised, without the child even realising it is happening. A far as the child is concerned they are getting out in the sunshine and fresh air and having, what in this country is considered the opportunity of a lifetime, a ride on a horse. The movement of the horse and their body is in sync, and they don’t even know about the miracle being worked. The repetition of the movement strengthens muscles increases blood flow, and just generally exercises the child in a way they can’t do themselves. The long term benefits are stronger, more flexible muscles, increased core strength, improved gross and fine motor skills, with the addition of confidence and self-worth, to name but a few.
For trauma related issues, a horse is the dependable care-giver/friend/stranger, these children have lost faith in. They are totally non-judgemental, they do not see the child’s past but relate to the child standing in front of them. The child can form a friendship based on trust, one in which, what you put in, you get out, one which is not affected by human moods. There is a great comfort in the steady, rhythmical motion of a horse, you can feel the predictability in the movement. And imagine the pride and self-worth when you feel like not only can you, this little person, affect the way this huge animal moves, but you can form a partnership and work together to make thing happen. You learn that the softer and more predictable you can make your actions, the softer and more predictable will be the reactions you get. Take this into your life with people and suddenly life becomes a lot easier. Horses teach you how to behave in an acceptable manner, and to feel at peace with this behaviour.
If you have a cognitive issue, not only does the horse exercise every muscle in your body, including the fine muscles, but the stride of the horse can be used to stimulate the child who needs excess stimulation, or sooth the child whose mind is too busy. Each horse has a different stride so you can choose which stride to fit which child. The three dimensional movement of the horse improves the child’s three dimensional view, improves co-ordination and spatial awareness, and satisfies their need for stimulation. Riding improves balance, and the child gains in confidence and self-worth.
That is just a basic over view of how therapeutic riding works, but there is a lot to it, and there are so many areas of life it helps with. Contact us to find out what it can do for you!
At Healing with Horse we provide a safe environment in which horses can connect with people and heal them, but we cannot do this without a lot of help.
And this is where the all important volunteers come in…
What is a volunteer?
Basically someone who donates their time or skills to our program.
In order to keep everything as safe as possible we need MANY volunteers at each session. So if you want to be involved with the sessions, this is what it entails.
On Wednesdays 9 am and Thursdays 2pm we work with the children from KGVI. For each child we serve, we need three helpers. One person is responsible for the horse, and two for the child. We do 6 kids per session, two sessions per day, which means 36 people! I’m not too sure if we have that many people in Bulawayo, and so we get out poor volunteers to double up and do both sessions! We are lucky enough to have the most amazing grooms who do most of the leading, and are also trained to side walk. So it would be ideal to have 24 volunteers to work with the children on each day. While the one session is on the go, the children waiting their turn need to be entertained. So while you are waiting your turn to side walk, we will ask you to interact with the kids, play games, draw, colour, etc. Or, if you are confident with horses we may ask you to bring the miniature ponies to visit the kids so they can groom them. If you are interested in volunteering as a side walker/entertainer (or just one of those if the other doesn’t appeal to you) we ask that you come for a volunteer morning before your first session so that you become familiar with the ropes, so to speak.
On Mondays (2pm), Tuesdays (2pm), Wednesdays (3pm) Saturdays (2pm) we work with the children from Sandra Jones Centre. For this we need mostly entertainers! Volunteers who can play football, or other energetic games with the kids while we, the instructors, work with the others. Alternatively, if you are comfortable around horses and understand safety when dealing with children and horses, we may ask you to work with the faithful miniature ponies and the kids who are waiting. As one of these volunteers you do not have to be a cross fit specialist like the Wednesday and Thursday volunteers, merely aerobically fit and child savvy! We will occasionally ask for side walkers in these sessions but without the complicated hand holds required in the KGVI sessions.
On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays at 9am, we work with the Little Flock of Jesus kids, and the volunteers we need on these days should be horse savvy and able to lead the ponies for these kids.
During February we will begin sessions with the children from Ingutsheni Hospital in Bulawayo. We have provisionally booked to work with these kids on Monday and Thursday mornings at 10am. Our volunteers for these days will need to be side walkers or leaders, much like for the KGVI kids.
On all other days, at different times we have individual sessions in which we need side walkers and leaders.
Working with the Horses
We have a large herd of horses who are very hard working, and who need to be kept fit and strong for their work with kids. So we are always looking for volunteers experienced with horses, to come work the horses, long lining, riding, lungeing, walking, ground work. This takes place every day of the week except Sundays, in the early morning before it gets too hot for the horses. We will assess your level of experience and set you to work where you fit in best!
There is always a horse to brush, a stable to muck out, water buckets to fill and other exciting things for the horsey or non horsey volunteer.
So few hours in each day these days, and by the time we have finished our day’s work at the stables there are not enough hours left in the evening to do all the paperwork involved in running such a big program! We are desperate for volunteers experienced in office work to capture data, etc for us.
Repairs and Maintenance
Fences to mend and build, stables, pole work, brick work, welding, you name it, it happens here, and it needs fixing!
Weeding, cultivating, grass cutting, sowing seeds, watering!
You don’t have to be good with horses, you don’t have to be good with kids, we can still find plenty for you to do. And if you are good with children and horses, this is the place for you!
Come volunteer, WE NEED YOU! You will never regret it, never look back, and we guarantee it will change your outlook on life. Become a member of the Healing with Horses family.
Phone: + 263 773 472 225
Web Page: www.healingwithhorseszimbabwe.com
Facebook Page: Healing with Horse Therapeutic Centre