More self-confidence and independence – things you can learn from horse riding for example. People with disabilities can take this important step with "Rolli auf Trab" (English: Trotting with Wheelchairs). REHACARE.com spoke with Sandra Glöckler of "Rolli auf Trab" about the lust for life that horse riding inspires and the interaction and experiences with the animals.
Ms. Glöckler, what are the benefits for people with disabilities when they interact with horses?
Sandra Glöckler: For many, "taking the reins" signifies an important milestone in improving their self-confidence and independence. The horse responds to gestures, breathing, moods, tension and authenticity in the relationship. The required relationship calls for you to have your own point of view and thus strengthens your sense of self. The horse does not care what a person has been through. What’s more important is how the person feels at that moment and how authentic he or she is. Horses cannot be influenced by superficial outward appearances, such as how attractive, restrained or strong a person acts for example. By its very nature, a horse is curious and friendly and thus creates a calming, yet motivating atmosphere. Horses are highly social animals and for me represent energy, strength, endurance and beauty.
What does one of your riding lessons look like?
Glöckler: Horse riding is more than just a sport. Horse riding means emotion and trust. Horse riding is a way of life, full of fascination, passion, and desire. Our various choices are aimed at supporting people and strengthening their mental and emotional fitness, boosting confidence in their own capabilities and thus sparking motivation and excitement to make any necessary changes – to support people on their journey to independence.
"Rolli auf Trab" is based on the principles of natural horsemanship. Horsemanship is not intended to train horses but rather human beings. The focus is on building mutual trust and respect, aimed at the concept of feel, timing, and balance – all in unison with the horse.
Before we ride, we gather the horses together and bring them in from the pasture, we clean and saddle them. In doing so, you sense where and how the individual horse likes to be touched and pampered – and you discover your own needs by connecting with the horse.
Horse riding is a sport people with and without impairments are able to experience together on equal footing as a recreational activity and that entails successes for each individual. Emphasis is customized based on individual objectives and interests as well as capabilities.
Customers enjoy the following benefits from their riding lessons:
Everyone can ride at your facility. Does this require specific resources?
Glöckler: Yes, everyone can ride with us. We have custom saddles. They have handles at various heights, fenders to improve stability and a reinforced seat. Some also have magnetic stirrups to ensure a safe placement of your feet even if there is no supporting body tension.
We use an electric hoisting system for those riders, who are unable to mount the horse on their own. I also designed various reins myself, which can be operated either with the mouth or by using one hand. The reins can also be used through suspenders.
Blind riders use our acoustic aids. Thanks to optical and acoustic signals, riders with sensory impairments learn the proper position in the saddle. Quite often, this is the first time they experience freedom of movement with their four-legged partner.
I present brand-new ways I discovered in my own work with horses; mainly because I also use a wheelchair and was never able to hold on to a horse.
What does inclusion mean to you?
Glöckler: To me, inclusion means that everyone is welcome! Being different is normal, everyone belongs and it’s the opposite of exclusion: all of us benefit when we live together and not just side by side.