Ingham Daily Press

Keeping People Connected

How horse therapy is touching the hearts of the disabled

What we can learn from a horse is infinitely more valuable than what we can teach them.

Christine Perry got her first pony at six years of age and has never looked back.  

As a teenager she attended regular private riding lessons and eventually progressed onto a bigger horse.

But after witnessing how much interaction with horses helped the development disabled son, she began a mission.

Riding for the Disabled, the project Christine started, is now providing horse therapy for people across Hinchinbrook and beyond.

Speaking about her first experience with a horse, she said: ‘Little did I realise at the time that this horse would be one of my biggest teachers in my life, one I will never forget.

‘A great horse will change your life.

‘I had assistance from a local pony club instructor and horse breaker, who taught me how to ‘Read a horse like a book.’

‘From my very first pony till now I have never stopped learning.  I studied at Marcus Oldham College and obtained my Diploma in Equine Studies and also worked at a thoroughbred stud in Victoria. 

‘I was teaching my own daughter how to ride and then started getting enquires from her friends and then my business Sahara Park was formed offering horsemanship programs.

‘I enjoy having fun with lessons and my passion just grew from there.’

Christine Perry, Riding For The Disabled Instructor, Ingham
Christine relaxing in the paddock with her horses

About four years ago Christine was approached by a local disabilities provider to further explore the programs and training involved for her to become an instructor for Riding For The Disabled.

‘After seeing astounding results with my own son and developments on his own pony, I could see how crucial this activity was for him.

‘I thought this type of therapy could benefit many people within our community.

‘He went from not being able to balance and walk to being able to run and never got hip dysplasia, which is a big concern with individuals who have cerebal palsy.

Christine’s son Jameson spending time with horse Bennett
Jameson giving his pony ‘Princess’ a big hug

‘What I enjoy most about horses is sharing my  knowledge and seeing progression and seeing others having fun and enjoying themselves.  

‘Horses are a passion of mine, they’re a way of life, a life I wouldn’t dream of living any other way.’

Christine Perry, Instructor Riding For The Diasabled, Ingham

Seeing how beneficial this type of therapy with horse was, she made the decision to complete her training and accreditation for the Riding For The Disabled, which she completed over two years, becoming a fully qualified RDA coach in Ingham.

‘I’ve had extensive training to be able to provide access to horses in the safest way.  

‘When someone participates in in a RDA program they experience fun, freedom and fitness.

Client Carla enjoying her ground horsemanship program with art therapy
Carla taking Willow for a walk through the obstacle course

‘Horses are authentic and real and they teach us what we need to know about ourselves and that can apply to almost everyone.  

‘The benefits include social physical, psychological and educational.  There’s improved core strength, balance, a boost to their self-esteem, increased circulation, coordination and increased social behaviour.  

‘The core values of the RDA is that the horse is a unique character with the ability to unlock the hidden talents and abilities of participants.

‘It’s the little things that I cherish in my day with RDA participants, it’s the small things like receiving a smile when they are around the horses.

‘I’m thankful for the RDA Townsville crew for supporting me in this journey.  

‘It’s a rewarding job Helping others through the facilitation of horses.

‘I have learnt that you can never know everything about horses, they prove this to me time and time again.’

When asked if she could share an interesting fact about horses that people may not know about, Christine responded by saying: ‘Horses have an electromagnetic field that is projected from their heart.  

‘This field is stronger than ours and can actually directly influence our own heart rhythm.  

‘This is why we can explain why we feel better when we are around them.  

‘There have been quite a few studies done on this which I find very fascinating.’

Jameson posing with pony “Princess”

‘There are so many benefits you gain from being in the presence of horses.  Not only the riding experience but many more from the ground with the horse.  

‘Working with them you learn about them but you also learn about yourself.  

‘Every horse is different and each one will have something to teach you.

‘I’m in the process of  currently establishing  an accredited  Riding For The Disabled unit in Ingham to offer programs to our community.’

At present the programs for Riding For The Disabled are administated through ground based horsemanship programs through her business Sahara Park located at Peacock Siding, Stone River, near Ingham.

To enquire about the programs or an intake assessment please contact Christine on 0458 384 597 or email on inghamrda@gmail.com or saharaparkequine@gmail.com

 ‘There’s something about the outside of a horse, that’s good for the inside of a man.’

Winston Churchill.

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