From the sacrifices they made during war - to the days spent working the fields - the loyal and beneficial connection between man and horse is clear.
Now an innovative new equine therapy programme has been launched in the Sleaford area to use the ‘healing’ power of close contact with horses and ponies.
Kesteven Rideability, based at the Paddocks Riding Centre in Hough on the Hill, devised the programme so older disabled adults can experience and benefit from being with horses and ponies in a safe and supported environment.
The group says the effectiveness of the therapy in reducing anxiety and improving mood has been proven.
The first session was held at the centre recently with residents from nearby Newton House care home trying out the therapy with three ponies.
“There was much excitement in the air as three of our lovely ponies, Fudge, Sox and Rio, were brought out of their stables and introduced to the group,” said Susan Ashton, trustee and rider at Kesteven Rideability. “The ponies were then led around so that each of the visitors could meet, fuss and stroke them.
“All the ponies here are used to dealing with people of all ages and abilities and were not phased by the sight of a group of visitors in wheelchairs. Each pony was introduced and it was magical watching thereaction of our visitorsas they stroked and talked to ‘their’ pony. Faces lit up and voices became more animated. There were happy tears as oneladyreconnected with her love of horses and another gentleman regaled us with stories of the real war horses of the First World War.
“After plenty of fussing the visitors were treated to home-made cakes and tea. The afternoon produced many special moments and each of the visitors and their carers expressed how wonderful the event had been for them.”
Karen Thompson, founder of Kesteven Rideability, which celebrates its 30th anniversay this year, has seen how interacting with horses has many positive health benefits to young, disabled children and adults.
She said: “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 Hourwas 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.”
l The Silver Hour sessions run on Thursday afternoons throughout the summer. Sessions can be for groups or individuals. Interested parties can call Karen on 07732418848 or email in firstname.lastname@example.org.