Healing through Horses

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The Healing Horses Therapeutic Riding Centre tucked along the coast in Kleinemonde at Three Sisters Horse Trails offers much more to riders and horse lovers than meets the eye. At Healing Horses; loveable equines are the therapists, the volunteers like nursing sisters, and the riders are the patients. The Centre uses RDA (Riding Develops Abilities) therapy to heal and inspire differently-abled adults and children from the greater Port Alfred area. Working with an RDA coach; riding lessons work to improve riders’ fine motor skills, core strength, flexibility, social skills and confidence.

Paralympic Dressage rider, Tamsin “Tammy” Mbatsha Bouwer, demonstrates a dressage test on Spirit, at the Grahamstown Riding Club. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green

On Saturday 30 March, Healing Horses hosted a fundraising event at the Grahamstown Riding Club to raise awareness about the Centre and highlight the successes of RDA therapy.

Healing Horses Founder, Jan Webb, and certified level 2 RDA coach, Sheena Ferguson, work alongside volunteers to provide riding lessons to eight clients, so far, at the Centre. Lessons occur Monday and Wednesday mornings and include interactive games and a trail ride on one of three trained RDA horses. Webb says the riding lessons have received positive feedback from both clients, volunteers and the community.

The Healing Horses team hopes to expand their services in the future, by providing more lessons per week to a wider array of clients. Plans are also in the works to improve the Centre’s facilities. Webb and her team encouraged community members to assist in anyway they can; from helping to build and renovate the riding arena, to volunteering with clients or horses.

One of the Centre’s many inspirations comes from 20 year-old Paralympic Dressage rider, Tamsin “Tammy” Mbatsha Bouwer. In 2016, Bouwer was selected as a reserve rider for the South African Paralympic Equestrian Team in Rio de Janeiro. Despite being born with Cerebral Palsy, Bouwer learned to ride before she could walk and seems more at home on the back of a horse than on the ground, a feeling most riders can agree with (except falling off, another part of riding that Bouwer is very familiar with!).

Bouwer’s success as a rider is only one example of the many ways horses have helped to heal and inspire humans, and Healing Horses hopes to offer this gift to many more riders.

For more information, readers can visit Healing Horses’ Facebook page.

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