Therapy ponies give comfort to Grantham elderly and disabled
A riding centre just outside Grantham has launched a programme for its animals to give enjoyment to elderly and disabled people.
The idea is the brainchild of Karen Thompson, who founded Kesteven Rideability 30 years ago.
Known as The Silver Hour, the first equine therapy programme took place at The Paddocks Riding Centre, Hough on the Hill, a few weeks ago.
The first session involved four residents and their carers from Grantham’s Newton House care home, who enjoyed a brief introduction to the ponies and how to approach them.
Karen said: “There was much excitement in the air as our three lovely ponies, Fudge, Sox and Rio, were brought out of their stables and introduced to the group.”
The ponies were then led around so that each of the visitors could meet, fuss and stroke them.
Karen continued: “Each pony was introduced and it was magical watching the reaction of our visitors as they stroked and talked to ‘their’ pony. Faces lit up and voices became more animated.
“There were happy tears as one lady reconnected with her love of horses and another gentleman regaled us with stories of the real War Horses of World War One.
“After the first introduction some of the visitors groomed their ponies. Rio loved his mane being combed and Fudge dozed happily as his lady brushed him. After plenty of fussing (which all the ponies really enjoyed) the visitors were treated to home-made cakes and tea whilst sitting outside in the shade beside the centre’s outdoor area.”
Karen said the afternoon brought many special moments to both the visitors and their carers. Not only is being with horses enjoyable, it is also a proven therapy helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
She confirms that interacting with horses has many health benefits for young disabled children and adults.
“I wanted to offer this opportunity to the older members of our society, particularly those who find it much harder to be independent or to get out and about. Irrespective of age or infirmity, I believe that everyone can benefit from this kind of experience and so The Silver Hour was born.”
Newton House activities co-ordinator Sara Goslin said: “We loved to be able to take some of our horse loving residents to Kesteven Rideability to visit the horses. One of our residents hasn’t left the home since she has been here with us. She was very excited to go.
“ When she saw the horses, her face lit up and this was priceless for her and her daughter when she saw the photos.”
Kesteven Rideability Centre is a Riding for the Disable Centre. It will run the Silver Hour Sessions on Thursday afternoons throughout the summer months. Interested parties can contact Karen on 07732 418848 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit its website www.kestevenrda.co.uk/