Volunteer with rescue horses, providing riding therapy to disabled children
The project is perfect for anyone with an interest in horses, riding and working with the disabled abroad. The project leader is very knowledgeable on the science and benefits of riding therapy and is writing a book on the subject. The hope is to establish more centres across Ecuador.
The stables are located on the corner of a lovely and extensive 600 acre park. Most of the horses are rescue horses. The therapy takes place in the park, in a shaded glade.
Up to thirty disabled children attend each morning, arriving individually with their parents or in groups from the blind and disabled schools. Some children are severely disabled and need complete support and guidance, others are more independent.
Often the parents are very anxious; riding horses is not widespread and is inaccessible to poorer families. The children however love it and are predictably enthusiastic and cheerful throughout the experience.
The children are taken on lead rein, given laps of the riding area. Through a relationship with horses, the unique stimulation of the nervous system that riding provides and the sheer pleasure of riding, many of the disabilities are improved over a short period of time.
There is usually only one local to lead rein and this means the number of places is limited and children have to wait a long time to ride. Volunteers immediately double the capacity, meaning more places are scheduled during a volunteer placement and the children are riding more quickly.
This is suitable for all volunteers with experience of horses.
The day starts early with mucking out the horses and taking them from the stables to their grazing. Those that are going to be ridden during the day are then tacked up.
Volunteers help the children on/off the horses, lead the horses, ensure the children are riding safely, engage and communicate with the children throughout, and reassure those parents who are more nervous of the experience.
There are normally queues of people waiting for assistance, so you will be busy! It is not about teaching the children to ride but more about the relationship that can be established between them and the horses. This relationship and the stimulation of being on a wonderful animal can be extremely beneficial to the children.
The riding finishes around 1pm and the horses are rested. Lunch can be taken with the family that runs the project
If you establish the trust of the project leader, it is possible to ride out in the park in the afternoons
The project is sustainable without volunteers, but only at a very basic level. With no funding other than from private donations, the centre cannot afford to hire more people.
Having a volunteer allows the project leader to arrange more places for children and groups. Volunteers therefore significantly increase the capacity of the project.
Thank you for helping to make this experience possible for me. I'm sad to leave, but am also bursting open with the wealth of new storiesUnder 18, Ecuador