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In the saddle

CoverHorse

 

It’s Friday afternoon. As the van pulls up outside the Dukesbridge school gates, our little ones squeal with delight. It’s finally time to board. With faces beaming with excitement, we make our way to the stables for our weekly horse-riding lesson.

I love animals. I have two dogs at home and have always thought that they were a man’s best companion. However, since I have started accompanying the children to the stables, I have been pleasantly surprised to see how equally loving and friendly horses can be. The children and I have since developed a strong bond with these animals. Our little pony “Noisette” and a bigger one “Letchi” are our favourites, and it seems that even they are super excited to see us every week. 

 

 

 

Our lessons start with a briefing from the coach, Mr Nagadoo, former national jockey. As I listen to him, I cannot help noticing the children gaze at these majestic and mystical animals. I have always been intrigued myself by their eyes which are like windows to their soul. It’s as if they talk with their eyes, especially to the children. Actually, did you know the horse has the largest eyeball of any land mammal and can see almost 360 degrees around him? No wonder they need to wear blinders in a race!

 

 

Part of the lesson revolves around grooming of horses. This is a great way for the children to warm up to the horses, and vice-versa! Assisting with brushing the horse, shifting buckets, mounting the saddles and feeding the animal all help towards the emotional development of a child, instilling a sense of responsibility and care for others. Needless to say that just being around horses can be a great anxiety-buster too!

 

 

I recall the first time the children had a go at riding the pony around the paddock. I was trying to remain calm and to appear confident for the children’s sake, however my heart was racing like no other on the inside. As a mother and a teacher, nothing is more important to me than my children’s safety.

 

 

My initial instinct is to protect and therefore limit my children’s interaction with the unknown equestrian world. Why is she going that far, why so fast, is he going to fall off, what if the horse goes out of control?? So many questions, and yet it did not take long for me to see for myself that horses are naturally social, that they are inclined to appreciate interaction and that they generally love children. 

On this note, it would be good to highlight that, beyond the pure joy of riding horses, research has shown that horse-riding can have a therapeutic effect on children. In fact, equine therapy or hippotherapy is increasingly being used globally to assist children with mental difficulties such as autism, as can be seen from this short video clip:

 

 

As for me, the proud look of success on every child’s face when he or she gets off from the horse says it all. 

 

 

Horse-riding has become a major highlight of my own week, now think about what it means to the children. It has brought about a sense of togetherness and teamwork among the children, the boys at the barn and myself. We genuinely enjoy every single moment, chatter endlessly about it on the way back to school, and always look forward to being back in the saddle at the next session.

 

 

 

By Roja Ramkissoon

TOTS Educator,

Dukesbridge Moka

www.dukesbridge.com

 

 

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