Enabling children with a disability to engage, experience and develop

Organisation: McIntyre Centre - Riding for the Disabled

Project: Special School Therapeutic Horse Riding Program

Amount: $20,000

Year of grant: 2015

Children with a disability rarely have opportunities to be challenged outside the home or school environment. Many do not belong to a community group or enjoy activities that are available to their mainstream peers. The McIntyre Centre was the first riding facility in Australia for children with a disability and was founded by June and Peter McIntyre in 1964.

The Centre provides a variety of recreational and therapeutic equine programs to both individuals and groups, including Special Schools, children and young adults with a disability, and children from the local community. As an holistic style of therapy, therapeutic horse riding activates numerous parts of the brain and body simultaneously. The benefits received through therapeutic riding are different for each individual who attends.

Currently, 200 young people with physical and intellectual disabilities access the Centre’s horse riding and horse care programs that are interactive and fun and enable them to achieve goals that enhance physical, emotional, social, cognitive, behavioural and educational skills.

In 2015, The John Villiers Trust supported delivery of the Special School Riding Program during the second semester of 2015. The Program supports 133 children from twelve Special Schools each week. Teachers and coaches work together to meet the individual needs of each child and set challenging but realistic horse riding goals.

For students participating in the therapeutic horse riding program at McIntyre Centre, the benefits are numerous with improvements in balance, strength, fine and gross motor skills, eye/ hand coordination skills, and general feelings of wellbeing and improved self esteem.

“He has so much more stamina.  It has made all our lives easier as I can now take him out with me when running errands and we don’t have to stop so often to rest. He loves horse riding so much, it is a really easy way to motivate him to go to school on Mondays.”   Special School Riding Program parent.