Equine therapy offered for special needs youngsters

LESSON: One of the lessons in session.

TUMANAKO is based at Autumn Leaves Farm, home to EAPISA (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Institute of Southern Africa) in the Hartzenbergfontein Estate north of Walkerville and provides the internationally recognised benefits of hippotherapy (treatment with the help of a horse).

Tumanako hosted a demo show on October 6 where many were invited to see what they offer and how good this therapy can be for children living with disabilities.

PLOT 100: Tumanako is based on plot 100 at the Autumn Leaves Farm.

“Equine therapy is life-changing for children (and in turn, their parents too). Children with emotional, mental or physical difficulties have had startling results when working together with horses. The children learn about themselves, other people and interacting appropriately with the world. Benefits are seen on physical, psychological, social and educational levels,” said Andrew Rowland from Tumanako.

READ: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.653372094676519&type=1

Andrew explained that they use horses for the therapy because of their three-dimensional movement – up/down, backwards/forwards and left/right.

“This movement is almost identical to the movement of a healthy human pelvis which is the foundation for the therapy we provide – the horse becomes the youngsters’ legs, while walking helps stimulate the pelvic movement and through this, assists in building up the core body muscles, which otherwise would not have built properly. During the course of a session we then also move the pupils into various other positions to help target specific muscles,” said Rowland.

While the core function of the therapy is to provide physical therapy to build muscles, lessen spasticity of the limbs and so forth, there are other benefits like:

  • All the senses are involved during the sessions – the various sites around the yard, hearing the different sounds, smelling the different aromas and feeling the various textures of for example the horse’s coat or the sheepskin/saddle.
  • Psychologically, the horse levels the playing fields: the moment a special needs youngster gets on a horse, he/she immediately becomes no different to the able-bodied riders. The horse becomes their legs and they are now fully mobile.

READ: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.784215664925494&type=1

Tumanako is relatively new to the equine therapy scene but has been operating since 2007 and has a fiercely dedicated team including a qualified veterinary nurse, a psychology student and an occupational therapist student. The therapy is held from Tuesdays to Sundays and provides long-term therapy to a number of youngsters with disabilities that include cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, down syndrome, autism, ADHD, genetic disorders and more.

EDUCATING: Andrew Rowland demonstrates the different equipment they use.

The team also offer a course, free of charge to high school pupils who are interested, on the therapy and its benefits so that more awareness can be spread and hopefully more people will enter this field in years to come.

To find out how you can help or to get involved visit: www.tumanako.co.za.

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Shernovia Reddy

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