Healing-with-horses therapy centre dream comes true

Tamsin Mbatha-Bouwer proves that nothing is impossible
Tamsin Mbatha-Bouwer proves that nothing is impossible
Image: Supplied

Horses in Port Alfred will be used to help those with psychological and physical disabilities overcome some of the hardships they endure.

The newly launched Healing Horses Therapeutic Riding Centre aims to help those suffering from diseases like multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.

For Jann Webb, 54, the opening of the centre is the realisation of a lifelong dream.

Webb, of Three Sisters Horse Trails, said that after months of research she had finally been able to bring the idea to life.

Therapeutic horse riding was a combination of sport, recreation and education and held many benefits for individuals with physical, cognitive or psychological disabilities, she said.

Webb, who has more than 20 years of experience with horses, said the programme was due to start next month and was open to people from five years of age.

“I am really excited about this. I have talked, prayed and thought about it for so long and . . . I can’t wait to get the ball rolling,” Webb said.

“They have these programmes in other areas and there are proven results.

“This is going to evolve [how] people view therapy, in ways we can’t even imagine right now, but I know the possibilities are endless.”
Webb, who is yet to obtain a Riding Develops Abilities (RDA) instructor qualification, said the programme would help with confidence while also developing a sense of freedom.

“We have just started out and have not yet obtained all the necessary equipment, but we will assess each person based on the individual.

“We have calm and friendly horses on our farm which work patiently with people, and especially with children.

“The movement of the horse allows the rider’s muscles to be stimulated and ensures that the person’s emotional and physical wellbeing is taken care of.”

Born with cerebral palsy, Tamsin Mbatha-Bouwer, 19, of Port Alfred, learnt to walk through therapeutic riding when growing up in Pretoria.

“Horse riding has always been a part of my life and due to my disability I learnt to walk independently at the age of six,” she said.

“I think had I not been exposed to horse riding my life might have been very different. When I am on the horse, riding, no one can tell that I have a disability.”

Mbatha-Bower was selected to train in Europe as a dressage rider (the highest expression of horse training) to represent South Africa in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Sheena Ferguson, a qualified RDA instructor with more than 20 years’ experience in Australia, will be volunteering her services at the farm.

Healing Horses is a nonprofit organisation and those taking part in the therapy will not have to pay.