In 2014, we lived and worked in Mangere Bridge, New Zealand, for six months. While we were there, Amy worked as an assistant teacher at Ambury Park Centre and I (Michelle), had the privilege of volunteering as a Side Walker once a week.
We both fell in love with the power of integrating horse therapy with vulnerable and special needs children. We witnessed in person how the horses helped improve the lives of kids with physical, emotional, psychological and intellectual disabilities. For the first half of their school day, the students would spend time with the horses while the rest of the day was spent in the classroom.
Each student was tasked with learning specific responsibilities. Taking care of the horses with proper feeding, washing, and exercising, as well as learning about the horses' biology and behavioral science was a part of the program. Appropriate handling and riding skills were also incorporated into the students day. Everything they learned about horses helped to build their motivation, confidence, and muscle strength!
We were inspired by the MANY success stories of the children who attended this school. For example, there was a student in a wheelchair who was told he may never walk again. After many months riding and caring for his horse, he graduated to the use of crutches. He continued to work with the horse and is now able to walk on his own! He has even won awards for his work!
Horses are therapeutic to our bodies and minds. We learned that the hips of a horse are very similar to human hips. The act of riding a horse actually strengthens our hips because the movement is similar to our own.Horses are very intelligent and sensitive to energy. We like to call them 'Land Dolphins' because they are so similar to dolphins. Horses can sense energy and emotion, they know when you are afraid, angry, happy, sad, etc. A child with behavioral concerns must acquire a level of self-control and self-discipline before they can handle a horse. This is a strong motivator for most kids. Horse Therapy for children is commonly used in the public schools of New Zealand because it works! Therefore one of our future goals is to include horse therapy for the children who are part of the Angel K Love Project too.
I have included some links to learn more about Equine therapy below: