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Maria's experience in Bolivia: How equine therapy brings happiness and benefits to children with disabilities

Maria's experience in Bolivia: How equine therapy brings happiness and benefits to children with disabilities

In my day to day I helped with the equine therapy sessions for the children with a disability, he carried out tasks of caring for the horses and activities with the children in the time that they were not riding. What I liked the most was seeing the relationship that was created between the child and the horse, happiness and benefits thatthat equine therapy provided them. It has been a great and very enriching experience. 

María with one of the girls from the center

The equine therapy sessionsDepending on the child's profile, they were carried out in one way or another. The first thing, when a new child arrived, was to find out about his case and for the child to get to know the horse in order to lose his fear and gain confidence. Not until the boy felt safe did he ride the horse. There were some who were already mounting the second day and others who took a little longer.

Once that was created trust climate the boy was riding the horse. The most important thing is that he was well positioned so that his movements were beneficial to him, that he felt comfortable and enjoyed the experience. 

It is important to build trust between the child and the horse.

Depending on the aspect to be stimulated, we carried out some activities or others:

motor functions: We had to be aware that the child's position was appropriate and that his back was as straight as possible. In these cases, the movement of the horse makes the child's body move as if it were walking and causes his body not to forget that it has that function. In this way, it stimulates their motor functions.

We also did arm and leg exercises, which stimulated both the brain and parts of the body because it required concentration.

He speaks: while some rode, with other children with language problems, we used some tokens. The most used were those of animals, with them we said the word of the animal and its sound. They had to repeat it, and even if they didn't, the fact of listening to it was beneficial to them.

blind children: They directed the horse with its reins and we were supporting them to guide them pointing left, right or high with our voice (to stop the horse). They also performed arm and leg exercises on horseback. It is something that is done on horseback as well.

They all start with simpler activities and gradually progress to more and more difficult activities.

In addition to the physical benefits, the emotional benefits. The children create a very nice bond with the horse, they are very happy to see them, on the horse they feel relaxed and have fun. It is also about instilling in them love and respect for animals in general, they give them food at the end of the session and that makes them feel that they are taking care of it and it is very beneficial for them.

There were times when the children had to wait their turn to ride, and in those cases some of the volunteers stayed with them doing games, writing, language activities, etc... depending on what each one needed.

In the project I have felt very good, from the beginning they have explained to me the operation of the center and my tasks to carry out. We have all worked in a coordinated manner and the atmosphere has been great. 

Maria, Tumaini traveler in the equine therapy project (Bolivia), October and November 2015

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