Billabong Golf Bar helps bring smiles to faces

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It is difficult to understand the anxiety a small child must experience when, for the first time, they stand next to a horse that towers above them. That was my first experience of hippotherapy but, on the same day, to watch a young girl, who was seriously inconvenienced by having Down syndrome, sitting astride a horse but having the biggest smile you can imagine from the sheer pleasure of riding unassisted but with an assistant leading the horse.

Here is an example of the blankets and rosettes.
Here is an example of the blankets and rosettes.

Whilst there, I learnt a new Greek word which was hippo which means horse, hence the word hippotherapy, and can be dated back to the 17th century.

Sandra Cooper, who runs Able The Disabled at Horseshoe Point, specialises in helping Children With Special Needs, autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and other ailments. Therapy takes place on a horse which is carefully chosen for its calm and subdued temperament. This therapy has proved very successful all over the world because the gentle rhythmic movement of the horse simulates a human walking and helps children with balance, concentration, muscle control and a feeling of independence.

A young boy is helped to mount the horse.
A young boy is helped to mount the horse.

The health of the horse is critical. We are all familiar with the annoying flies that are attracted to the smallest scratch or cut we may have. Horses are no different, for the flies can infect these areas, which then requires treatment. The problem being that a horse’s tail will only go so far to swat the flies away. The infection is not contagious but is irritating to the horse and makes them fidgety, which is not recommended with a young child on board. Intense grooming is so important but covering the horse with a specialized blanket is the perfect remedy.

There is always assistants to help the riders.
There is always assistants to help the riders.

Billabong Golf Bar had a Charity Golf Day recently and raised funds for Children With Special Needs. We went to the stables to visit Sandra to determine what she might need. Grooming equipment and blankets were important but also to provide some large rosettes – why rosettes? Three or four times per year Sandra holds riding competitions for the children and those that perform well receive a large rosette in recognition of their efforts. This is treasured by the children for the rosette is not a gift but a reward for achievement.

Just look at the smile on his face.
Just look at the smile on his face.

You would be welcome to visit the centre at any time but if you would like to make a donation, regardless of how small please contact Sandra on 0868483684.

Applause for a job well done.
Applause for a job well done.
Teenagers also enjoy the day.
Teenagers also enjoy the day.