Horseshoes and Handprints – Sponsored by Forageplus

Horseshoes and Handprints is a fantastic charity organisation which Forageplus are proud to sponsor. This wonderful organisation uses horses and animals to help many people, adults and children with special needs.

horseshoes and handprints sponsored by Forageplus

Many difficulties and conditions are helped by a reduction in anxiety levels. Horseshoes and Handprints do this through a combination of the right physical environment, communication, movement and activities.

Small Animals

Some children find it very daunting to get on or even approach a horse or small pony. We also have 2 goats and an amazingly gentle dog which many children find less intimidating and we may use these first.

Grooming, Decorating, Leading and Handling Horses

Spending time handling, grooming and decorating the horses and ponies provides lots of sensory input and also helps gain confidence, which can be built on by leading the ponies in hand along the lane, in the fields or in the arena prior to actually getting on, doing sensory work and riding.

Sensory Work – Sitting and Lying on horses

Sensory therapy is an important part of the process and as the name suggests involves a lot of touching, feeling, smelling, listening, and yes some children do taste! The close contact achieved by sitting or lying on a horse can have a profound effect. Many people find this extremely relaxing and it is not unheard of for someone to fall asleep. Although some can be nervous at first we often find that once confidence is gained the child will lay for long spells, repetitive movement and other stress related coping methods reduce dramatically and often stop.

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Playing Games with Horses

Leading, long reining or riding the ponies through obstacle courses or in teams help gain confidence and interaction. Some of our horses are trained to do tricks and we use this to help motivate and encourage communication. A direct response from the horse to a child’s cue has a very motivational effect.

Horse Riding and Double Riding, with an adult for small children

Double riding with an adult can generate an amazing response in some children. The combination of the deep pressure from the adults arms holding them, the movement of the horse, and the sound of the adult talking or singing to them constantly from behind with no eye contact can promote speech and open channels of communication that were blocked before. We always have “runners” nearby on the ground to watch the child’s reactions and anytime they want to get down, we stop and they are lifted down immediately. We may intersperse this riding with other activities to promote concentration, focus and involvement in other things.

Painting Horses with Horseshoes and Handprints

Hand painting the horses and cleaning up afterwards using the hosepipe is fun and can get the whole family, staff and volunteers giggling and very messy. There is purpose in our madness as this can frequently gain involvement from children who generally do not participate or are reluctant to experiment with the new feelings and texture of paint on their hands. Many children with autism are fascinated by water, washing their hands after painting and also washing the horses off can also help get them more involved.

If you would like to find out more about the work of Horseshoes and Handprints pop over to their Facebook page.