Horsetalk program making a difference
A LOCAL horse program, provided by Horsetalk Riding Farm, has transformed the lives of local people with a disability, especially one young man in particular.
Peter Macdonald from Lismore has been attending Horsetalk for more than four years, with his mother Victoria saying there has been a "monumental” change in Peter's personality.
"He really loves coming out here and you can see the difference it's made,” Ms Macdonald said.
"He has gone from shy and not talking to that he's now confident and a lot calmer, and coming out here just really uplifts him.”
The 26 year old said he loves visiting the farm, coming every single Friday, and has built a strong relationship with Horsetalk's beloved Bernie.
"My favourite part is riding him,” he said.
Horsetalk Riding Farm owners Steve Clibborn and Joyce Corbett said it had been heart-warming to watch as participants gained confidence and experience in handling the horses.
"Our goal is to take people who know nothing about horses, and teach them how to look after the horse and eventually they can learn to ride a horse,” Mr Clibborn said.
"So they learn everything from catching a horse in the paddock to getting it ready for riding and looking after it after the ride.”
Mr Clibborn said their program was about more than riding, and for many of the students, the Jiggi farm is a "calm, safe place where the kids can really relax and come out of their shells”.
"A big part of what we do is helping these kids, who have it really tough, be able to work with horses and to bond with them and form a friendship,” he said.
As well as people with disabilities, Horsetalk also welcome disadvantaged children from local schools who could benefit from the equine therapy.
"Horses have a way of getting through to people, kids especially, when other ways may not have worked. There's just something special about them,” he said.
Mr Clibborn said the program works quite effectively.
"People all comes to us with good stories about how much they've enjoyed the program, or how much it has helped,” he said.
"And then we have our wonderful students who have kept coming back for four or five years, which speaks for itself.”
Another long-time student, Alison Rose said she always brought apples and carrots for the horses on Friday and had learnt to interact with the horses including learning how to groom them.
"One of my favourite things is saddling them and riding them,” she said.
"Coming here makes me relax and forget about all the other stuff.”
REDinc. support worker Chris Cameron said it was great to see everyone get so much out of the program.
"It sounds cliche, but it is very much a journey of discovery for these people,” Mr Cameron said.
"They start out very unsure of horses, meeting all of these new people in a strange new place, and then you just get to see them unwind.
"You see them, these people who often find it very difficult to interact with others, building a rapport and engaging with the horses and it really grows their confidence.”