About Claremont Therapeutic Riding Centre

Our History
OUR TEAM
OUR HORSES
BENEFITS OF RIDING

About CTRC

Claremont Therapeutic Riding Centre (CTRC) provides horse riding for therapy, sport, recreation and training for children and adults of all abilities. With a focus on inclusion and participation, CTRC is striving to provide the best facilities, horses and well trained staff to uphold the aim of providing a centre of valuable community benefit in the heart of Perth.

In 1972 several individuals met to establish a community based operation that was to become known as Claremont Group Riding for the Disabled at a site in Graylands Hospital grounds. This Claremont group was instrumental in establishing RDA in WA. On 2 November 1992 the Organisation became incorporated with a new name, that is, the Claremont Therapeutic Riding Centre Inc. and as such is the longest continuing organisation providing riding for the disabled in Western Australia.

From this beginning in a paddock at the Brockway site Claremont Therapeutic Riding Centre has grown and now provides sport, recreation and therapeutic riding, and integration for over 150 riders per week.

Lessons provide both therapy and learning experience for the participating riders psychologically as well as physically. Our qualified coaches (Equestrian Australia, AHRC, CTRC accredited) are trained to work with a wide variety of disabilities: cerebral palsy, autism, hearing, vision and intellectual impairment, multiple sclerosis, acquired brain injury and paraplegia.

Quality of life is improved by participation in a sporting activity that provides therapeutic and recreational benefits that are both mentally and physically stimulating; it allows people with disabilities to be active participants, not just observers. Social contact and involvement with the community is an important aspect of our Centre. Once participants have reached an accepted standard, we endeavour to integrate our riders into other equestrian environments such as pony clubs, adult riding clubs, trail riding, dressage competitions and ultimately Para and Special Olympics.

Today our CTRC supportive community is still lead by M’Liss Henry but our family has grown to include a progressive Board, CEO, Stable Hand, part time instructors and of course a wonderful extended family of volunteers. Our lessons are now held in a fabulous 70m x 30m indoor arena which means lessons can be held in all weather conditions. Our riders are not only participating in lessons and working towards their riding goals but they are integrating into our community that includes families, riders, volunteers and staff from all walks of life all working together for a common goal. Many clients report CTRC as being like their second family and as such we strive to provide each and every one of our clients with a supportive environment that will allow them to take their riding as far as they wish to take it. Many of our riders are competing in RDA and Special Olympic competitions, pony club and State Level showjumping, eventing and dressage competitions. All of our riders are invited to our annual gymkhana where our able riders act as support for our disabled riders and we see this integration on not just this one day but throughout the year as normal and part of being in the CTRC family.

Step into our centre and you will find a group of dedicated staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to enrich the lives of the Mt. Claremont community. We are governed by a voluntary board who are responsible for the strategic direction of the organisation, ensuring the longevity of our centre.

Head Coach
M’liss Henry
CEO Jacqui Moon
Stables Manager Alex Faulkner
Part Time Coaches Hannah Henry, Dom Jauffret, Cindy Black, Nadine Gabriels and Yvonne Ardley
RideTherapy Instructor Joanne Blomquist

 

Board Members
President Xander van Beusekom
Secretary Yvonne Ardley
Treasurer Jo Bunney
General Members Tom Jones, Hannah Henry, Shirley Derrick, Courtney Bergersen, Jo Bunney, Greg Bunney, Yvonne Ardley, Phil Andrew, Alison Young and Belinda Von Knoll

 

About Our Team

Raised on a station near Condobolin NSW M’Liss grew up with a love of all things country and especially her horses who became her passion. She competed in jumping and eventing to an elite level where she was named as Reserve rider for the Tokyo Olympics Australian Three Day Event Team. Horses also allowed her to travel and during this time she both worked and rode at competitions in England, France, Spain, Pakistan & India and has many entertaining stories to tell of these travels .e.g. running with the bulls in Spain and ending up in jail as women are not allowed to run with the bulls!

Back in Australia she married a local Condo Rugby player and Jackeroo on North Star in 1970 and they moved to Perth for new horizons. However, she missed station life and her beloved horses so she began offering horse rides to disabled children in a paddock in Claremont in 1972. To begin with this started out as a Tuesday afternoon per week while M’Liss worked in a Dr’s surgery in Morley and later a picture framing business in Subiaco. By 1975 the demand for M’Liss’s lessons had grown so much that it became her full time occupation.

Her mantra then is the same as today “I don’t really see the disabilities of anyone. You don’t ride with your disability, you ride with your ability, whatever that is. My job is to improve that ability.”

M’Liss continued her competitive riding up till very recently and each year competed and took a team of horses and riders to compete in “The Blackwood Marathon” – an ironman type race from Boyupbrook to Bridgetown that includes 5 member teams consisting of a runner 8.5klms, canoeist 12klm’s, river swimmer 1klm, undulating equestrian cross country of 16klm’s and finally a cyclist who rides 22klm’s to the finish. M’Liss has ridden in at least 18 Blackwood Marathons and has been in nearly all the winning teams!

Her other passion has been supporting her two daughters Nellandra and Hannah and many riders from CTRC in their competition riding. Nell and Hannah have both been involved in the running and coaching at CTRC and both are currently competing their horses at State level showjumping events. Nell has followed her mothers’ footsteps into Coaching and is currently an NCAS Level 2 General Coach and coach educator and teaches from her property in Gidgegannup. Hannah is on the CTRC Board and coaches a jumping group on Saturday mornings.

Coaching has also taken M’Liss overseas with two of her Para riders to represent Australia. Sara Cann who has ridden with M’liss since she was four years old competed in the RDA Hope Cup Taiwan in 2014 and also for the Special Olympics in LA in 2015. M’Liss also accompanied Amy Blakiston for several months to Europe in 2008 where Amy participated in Para equestrian competitions in England and France.

For all her efforts M’iss has won many awards for her work at CTRC but probably her proudest is her OAM awarded to her in 2008 for her service to the disabled and community.

Today, M’Liss overseas all of the horse operations of CTRC, training and choosing of the new horses, welfare of the current horses, their feed and work regimes, their holiday’s and coordinates the day to day timetable of lessons with our CEO. We currently teach 85 disabled clients/lessons a week and 75 able bodied and today M’Liss is just as enthusiastic for the service the centre provides as she was back in 1972!

To sum M’iss up here is her paragraph describing why she was awarded her OAM in 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2019, M’liss Henry was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame, adding to a lifetime of achievement and recognition of her wonderful work.

M’iss and Sara

Hannah has been a weekend coach and member at CTRC for over 20 years and is an active member of the CTRC Board. She is actively involved with the WA Equestrian community through her involvement with Showjumping and Pony Club. She is at CTRC level O trainer and is currently completing her NCAS Level 1 coach. When she is not at CTRC or competing in Showjumping events around the state she works in Quality Assurance for Castrol and enjoys trying to surf!

Being lucky enough to have been born into an equestrian family, horses have always been a part of my life. Through childhood and my early teens I had the greatest ponies to ride on our property in Wanneroo and the vast Gnangara Pine Plantation which backed on to our property. At about 13 my parents decided to set up a riding school and from that time onwards I was immersed in the agistment, teaching, breaking-in, re- education and training of horses and riders. My father had been taught by the classical French methods and philosophies plus a large influence of the military where he served – so all of these formed my earliest equestrian fundamentals. Through the years we had many visiting instructors hold clinics and two of these who influenced my life were Sally Swift and Richard Weiss.

Although I competed as a young kid on my ponies who were talented enough to go from the show ring, to the jumping, to the novelities and maybe a dressage test as well, I never really enjoyed it! What thrilled me and drove me was working with the horses and teaching. Eventually Mum & Dad retired and my sister and I took over the riding school, looking after 45 stabled horses and 25 school horses, the riding school and property was all consuming but a very rewarding experience. In 2004 the family decided to sell the property. After 8 years away from the horses I had the fantastic chance of teaching again at CTRC. Giving lessons on a Friday has been wonderful, keeping me inspired enough to leap out of bed on a Friday morning, exited to get down there. Teaching and sharing my love of riding and horses is the most fulfilling and rewarding part of my life!

Joanne Blomquist is owner and facilitator of a unique program called “Ride Therapy” that works with humans and horses to bring about change, encourage learning and help people to reach new and improved potentials.

Joannes background spans from Therapeutic riding to biomechanics, motor learning and skill acquisition through her degree in Human Movement and Exercise Science (Sport Science). Joanne also has a keen interest in communication and inquiring into how communication can be developed and enhanced utilizing her cert IV in Auslan and level 2 in Equine Facilitated Learning lends a unique skill set that enables client’s potentials to be realized and achieved.

Understanding what brings about change and the insight into how the human brain and body learns, working with the horse’s movement, the increased energy and arousal levels provides an opportunity to disrupt established patterns and facilitate change. Joanne’s skill set and knowledge of functional anatomy and pathologies, experience and proven track record offers a unique individualized program that provides a consolidative platform for other therapies such as Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Speech Therapy. There is also a chance to work with the whole person and include emotional and cognitive aspects of learning.

Currently Jo is contracted by Riding for the Disabled WA to implement an athlete development program for WA’s state Dressage and Special Olympic Squad. Her program has a focus towards increased rider fitness and safety, competition readiness, skill acquisition, health and lifestyle, leadership and what it takes to be part of a team with the idea to develop the whole athlete. There are currently 26 members with a wide range of abilities/disabilities (physical and intellectual) and age groups.

Jo has been working in Therapeutic Riding over the last 15 years and is currently closely linked to Jon Pitts “RideSmart” system, where she is in joint venture with the program here in Australia and the UK. Jon Pitts Human Performance and RideSmart work with grass roots clients up to the Equestrian elite including Olympic Eventing teams and riders from around the world and facilitates effective systems of learning.
Collaborating with this Sister company (RideSmart and Jon) ensures that ideologies and practice stay current and ensures for continued development of innovative effective RideTherapy programs.

These specialized RideTherapy programs are offered at Claremont Therapeutic Riding Centre. CTRC has played an instrumental role in allowing Joanne and RideTherapy to evolve explore and ultimately contribute to making significant changes to client’s life’s.

Jo and the CTRC Team winning awards at the 2016 WA Disabled Sports Association Awards Night.
Jo was awarded the Coach of the Year!

Alex joined the CTRC family in 2001 as rider and rode for 8 years. In 2010 Alex began working at Ascot for racehorse trainer Kelly Grantham but Alex still came to CTRC on a Friday afternoon to help out after her shift at Kellies, as she just couldn’t keep away!!

In July 2014 the Board asked Alex to join our staff as Stable Hand and she is absolutely loved by all clients and such a help to M’Liss in the setting up and running of lessons each day. Alex lives with her Dad locally in Wembley and also has a passion for photography of which many of our FB pics come from Alex’s keen eye.

Alex receiving her new hat!
Some samples of Alex’s photography
Some samples of Alex’s photography

Jacqui joined the CTRC team in March 2016. She comes from a strong equestrian background in Victoria where she grew up competing in dressage and show horse. She moved to WA in 2000 to manage Barrabadeen Stud in Gidgegannup. 2006 she began working at the Equestrian Federation in Brigadoon as the Sports Admin officer and in 2012 took up a position with the Pony Club Association of WA as their Sports Administrator. Both of these roles saw her involved in many State and National Championships and as a valuable advocate of both associations.

In 2014 she was unfortunately struck down by the sudden onset of myelitis of the spinal cord and found herself a paraplegic for several months. After 4 months in rehab she returned home to begin to learn to walk again. She still worked from her hospital for PCAWA and went back full time in the middle of 2015. With a change of CEO at PCAWA Jacqui decided to take a break and it was while she was in Sydney with her daughter competing at the 2016 showhorse Grand Nationals when she received a call from M’Liss – we need you!!

Since then she has taken on the role with gusto, relived some pressure off M’Liss and is slowly dragging CTRC into current times with the advent of the monthly newsletter, upgraded FB page and very soon the new website! She is also navigating us through the change from Block to Individualised funding the whole introduction of the NDIS etc.

Jacqui lives with her family in Gidgegannup and her daughter Chloe also has the “horse bug” and has competed with the guidance from her mother in dressage and show horse since she was 6 years old. Chloe is currently on the State Young Rider Dressage squad and regularly competes at the Showhorse Nationals. Whilst Jacqui lives an hour away from CTRC she says this position is by far the most satisfying she has had and the motivation for the drive is seeing the difference CTRC makes in so many people’s lives!

 

 

As one of our moto’s says “Our Horses Change lives”.

We have 35 school horses of varying sizes, breeds, colours and ages. These horses have come to us from a variety of backgrounds, many have been racehorses that have been gifted to the centre after their race careers. These horses can take some years of training before they are ready for the school. In this time they are socialised with the larger group, let down from racing, learn to live a more relaxed life. Then they begin their ridden re-education, learning to be responsive yet relaxed under saddle eventually with a variety of riders on board. During this time they may attend pony club or jumping competitions as part of their wider experience. If at this this time they are found to have potential in a field then it’s not uncommon that down the track they will be a school horse from Monday to Friday and then compete with clients on board at open competitions at the weekend! Such is the versatility of many of our horses.

We also have ponies and horses donated to us that may be semi-retired, and owners want to see them being used and loved and not just sitting in a paddock. These horses and ponies take no time at all test or train up and can be used in the school as quick as three weeks after arrival! Some of our ponies have been donated or bought as young horses from WA pony studs such as Judaroo and Drumclyer and these ponies now in their 20’s are still very active in the school today. Ponies as well are hired out to clients to use at Pony Club or for competitions at weekends.

Some of our ponies such as William and Gumnut have now carried generations of riders and are absolute superstars in their own right!

Our horses and ponies know what ability of rider they are carrying and adapt accordingly. It is also one of M’Liss’s talents gained from 43 years experience that she can match the right rider to the right horse and will have in mind when that riders improves what horse they can ride next!

One of M’Liss’s passions is seeing our disabled riders compete in RDA or Special Olympic competitions. It is common when one of these competitions is on for M’Liss to load up her truck and take 8 or 9 horses to the competition for our clients to ride. Once at the comp she will also coach all of these riders and most times offer the ponies to riders from other centres who might be without a ride- and coach then as well!!

As stated at the top our ponies do change lives – time and time again we see riders improve their mobility, balance, core strength, confidence and social outlook after only a short term of riding. The social interaction that our clients young and old have with “their” pony/horse makes the therapeutic benefit they are receiving seem like fun, and the physical exercises a series of games that they complete with their equine partner.

This a fabulous article that clearly explains all the great therapeutic benefits of horse riding!! Below this are two recent reviews of CTRC!

 

 

By: Marian Swindell

This a fabulous article that clearly explains all the great therapeutic benefits of horse riding!! Below this are two recent reviews of CTRC!

Therapeutic riding is a great way to see remarkable changes in social work clients. One remarkable program that is yielding phenomenal results is therapeutic horseback riding. Research shows this form of therapy works wonders with almost every social work population: children, teens, juvenile delinquents, physically challenged, developmentally delayed, blind, deaf, and all forms of abuse. The explanation for the success rate is simple. A special bond is formed between a child and a horse. Children who have not progressed in a conventional therapeutic setting often excel with therapeutic riding. Children will tell a horse things they would never tell a therapist. A child will share secrets, thoughts, failures, setbacks, wishes, dreams, and goals with a horse. And the horse will never tell. Children know this and, therefore, open up more with horses than with parents, teachers, friends, pastors, and conventional therapists. Children will attempt different physical challenges because they feel the support of the horse underneath them.

According to the National American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA, 2002) therapeutic riding “uses equine-oriented activities for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being of people with disabilities” (p. 5). Over-activity, distractibility, autism, developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disturbances, and anger issues are all appropriate problems for therapeutic riding.

There are two types of therapeutic horsemanship: therapeutic riding and hippotherapy. The difference between the two types is that hippotherapy requires a medical professional, such as a physical, speech, or occupational therapist. Therapeutic riding requires a certified riding instructor.

In hippotherapy, riders meet with the therapist one-on-one for about 30-45 minutes. In therapeutic riding, riders usually meet in groups with the certified riding instructor for about 45 minutes. In both types, there are several volunteers, also known as “side walkers,” who help the person get on and off the horse and walk beside the horse the entire time to prevent any injury. The side walkers must also complete an intense training course.

In addition to riding the horse, the client also is encouraged to complete certain tasks, also referred to as “games.” A physically challenged rider may be ask to throw a small ball through a hoop, throw a Frisbee into a barrel, or reach and ring a bell. A mentally challenged rider may be asked to count how many times the horse walks around the gate or to count how many barrels there are in the arena. All tasks have a specific therapeutic goal. Many times, the riders are asked to answer questions aloud as well as get the horse to respond to a verbal command—all simultaneously. This provides both a physical challenge and a mental one.

Horses and humans have a lot in common. First and foremost, the gait of a horse is similar to the gait of a human. The horse’s pelvis is identical to a human’s, but offset by 90 degrees. When a client rides a horse, this motion simulates walking, and the rider is able to work on balance, posture, breathing, and coordination. A horse also engages the rider’s vestibular system, “which runs throughout the body and affects functions like alertness, balance, and digestion” (Killcreas, 2008, p.2).

Social work practitioners should seriously consider animal assisted therapy as a viable intervention when working with any type of population at risk. Many educators and health care professionals have already taken the concept of therapeutic riding and put it into practice (Bland, 1987; Crothers, 1994; Cylke & Kurt 1991; Minner, 1983; Potter, Evans, & Nolt, 1994; and Scheidhacker, Bender, & Vaitel, 1991.

Spink (1993) explains that in therapeutic riding, the focus is on learning to control the horse. The rider actively responds to the directions of the riding instructor by cognitively coding or registering the request, then processes the requests and attempt to execute the desired positional and/or motor sequence. The 3-dimensional movements of the horse stimulate the rider’s central nervous system, which then stimulates areas of the brain that control specific motor functions and behaviors. In response, various neurotransmitters, such as natural endorphins, are released and can cause a variety of emotional and behavioral effects (Spink, 1993). These behavioral effects are similar to the effects of the “workout high” or “runner’s high.”

Several research studies indicate the profound impact of therapeutic riding with a variety of populations. Kaiser, Smith, Heleski, and Spence (2006) found that after completing an 8-week therapeutic riding program, anger in adolescent males significantly decreases and mothers’ perceptions of their sons’ behaviors improves. Mason’s (1988) study revealed enhanced self-concept for people with cerebral palsy after participating in a 3-month therapeutic riding program. Emory’s (1992) research with emotionally and behaviorally challenged teens found statistically significant improvements in self-concept, intellectual and school status, popularity, happiness, and satisfaction. Scheidhacker, Bender, and Vaitel (1991) found that people with chronic schizophrenia showed marked improvement in symptom management while participating in therapeutic riding. Crothers’ (1994) research with learning disabled children found that participating in this type of treatment improves information retrieval and processing.

Therapeutic riding programs are especially effective with attentional disorders because of the areas of the brain stimulated by riding a horse. The motion of the horse stimulates all aspects of the brain, activating both hemispheres simultaneously. It is also believed that the areas of the brain that control attention, impulses, and activity levels are directly stimulated by the movement. The neurotransmitters released when riding create an effect that is similar to the one created by stimulant medication. Energy is redirected to different areas of the brain, making it possible for the person to concentrate; be active without being overly active, hyperactive, or fidgety; and be less impulsive.

Stevens (2007) explains that horses are able to sense certain weaknesses in children with ADHD and respond to them by remaining calm and quiet. As the child pets the horse, the calmness from the horse is transferred to the child. The horse is quiet, and the child becomes quiet or less loud. The child’s listening skills become more attuned, his or her ability to listen to directions and respond appropriately improves, and behavioral difficulties decrease. Equine Therapy and Social Work: A Winning Combination

In therapeutic programs with learning disabled children, certain activities are chosen to specifically decrease negative behaviors. These activities include grooming a horse, because the child has to groom from left to right and, therefore, learns sequencing. The child must talk softly with the horse during grooming, thus improving communication skills. Self esteem improves when children are placed on the back of a horse, as they are far above the people standing on the ground. Even as the child rides and masters new skills and becomes aware of his or her horseback riding ability, self esteem soars (Stevens, 2007).

Children performing poorly in school often thrive in therapeutic riding treatment. Children participate in games and activities that make them point out shapes, colors, sizes, and textures. On a trail ride, children are often instructed to find the red ball hanging from a yellow rope in a green pine tree. Children are learning, but they see everything as fun and a game. Through the use of signs placed around a paddock (small riding arena), letters can be taught and the reading of the individual words by word recognition can be learned. Games involving signs for “exit,” “danger,” “stop,” and “go” help teach important life skills involving reading (Stevens, 2007).

Children learn to count by counting the horse’s footsteps, objects around the paddock or arena, or even the horse’s ears and legs. The concept of numbers becomes clearer as the rider compares the number of legs on a horse to the number of his or her own legs. Addition and subtraction are taught through games involving throwing large numbered foam dice and adding and subtracting the numbers. Resistance to learning decreases, because the children see these activities as games. Eye-hand coordination, a necessary writing skill, improves as a child tacks (puts on the saddle) or grooms a horse. Visual and spatial perception increase as children ride around the arena, ride closer or farther from a wall, ride around the blue barrel, or ride from the blue barrel to the red barrel and back over to the yellow barrel.

According to Zanin (1997), many parents of riders enrolled in therapeutic riding programs “marvel at their child’s newfound skills.” The riding centre may be one of the first places where the child experiences success and acceptance.

The motivating lure of the large, gentle animal, the calm and consistent support of the therapeutic riding team, and the naturally accepting environment of the “stable” provide opportunities for the child to learn and develop. These opportunities may help turn the often disparaging label of the ADD child into a child who is “Absolutely Delightfully Driven.”

Social work students, educators, and practitioners are always seeking effective best practices that can be implemented with their populations. I would encourage those seeking cost-effective and successful programs to consider therapeutic riding. These programs really do work wonders with all types of populations.

References

Bland, J. (1987). Animal facilitated therapy: The benefits of equestrian therapy for the physically handicapped with cerebral palsy. Dissertation Abstracts International, DAI-A 48/07, 1731.
Crothers, G. (1994). Learning disability: Riding to success. Nursing Standard, 8, 16-18.
Cylke, F. ,& Kurt, E. (1991). Horses: An introduction to horses: racing, ranching, and riding for the blind and physically handicapped. Library of Congress, Washington D.C. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 29.
Emory, D. (1992). Effects of therapeutic horsemanship on the self-concepts and behaviour of asocial adolescents. Dissertation Abstracts International, DAI-B 53/05, 561.
Kaiser, L., Smith, K., Heleski, C., & Spence, L. (2006). Effects of a therapeutic riding program on at-risk and special needs children. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 228, 46-52.
Killcreas, A. (2008). Riders develop skills with special therapy. Family, Youth, and Consumer News. MSU Agriculture Communications, Mississippi State University Press.
Mason, M. (1988). Effects of therapeutic horseback riding program on self-concept in adults with cerebral palsy. Dissertation Abstracts International, DAI-A 49/09.
Minner, S. (1983). Equine therapy for handicapped students. Pointer, 27, 41-43.
NARHA. (2002). NARHA instructor educational guide. Denver, CO: North American Riding for the Handicapped Association.
Potter, J.T., Evans., J.W., and Nolt, B.H. (1994). Therapeutic horseback riding. Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, 204, 131-133.
Scheidhacker, M., Bender, W., and Vaitel, P. (1991). The effectiveness of therapeutic horseback riding in the treatment of chronic schizophrenic patients. Experimental results and clinical experiences. Nervenarzt, 62, 283-287.
Spink, J. (1993). Developmental riding therapy: A team approach to assessment and treatment. Therapy Skill Builders. Tucson, Az.
Stevens, L. (2007). Of children and horses. Holistic: Harmonizing pathways to wholeness, 38-43.
Zanin, C. (1997). Medical consideration for therapeutic riding. Strides, 3 (3). Np.
Marian Swindell, Ph.D., is an associate professor of social work at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus.

This letter was sent to us by Gayle Hillen – an occupational therapist at the Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre – and we could not be more proud of her views on Harley’s progress:

“Dear M’liss and Jacqui,

I currently work as the OT in the Talkabout Program at Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre. I am but one member of the team, which is comprised of the Teacher, Educational Assistant, Speech Pathologist, Psychologist, Family Liaison Officer and of course the wonderful families. Harley Thurlj (who is such a gem) attends the Monday Kindy/T4 program at the Centre and we have all been so amazed at the huge benefit he has already gained, after a few short weeks, of attending your wonderful CTRC program!

He has such a willing, patient and persistent nature and always tries activities, despite some being very challenging for him. In particular, as he lacks core strength, stability and balance, he found the first few weeks in our gym, very confronting as it challenges all those core skills he finds hard. Not that this ever meant that he refused to try, he would always give things a go, with support. Since starting with your Therapeutic Riding Centre, it has been so heartening to see how his increased core strength and stability has given him the confidence to point and ask to go on our flying fox (with support). This could only have been attributed to the strengthening benefit he has already gained from riding your beautiful horses. Also, he is totally in love with horses – and carries around a toy horse, which he is often seen to kiss and he has even vocalized more in T4…

There have been children with physical disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Global Developmental Delays, to children with milder coordination issues, who have all made immeasurable gains from attending a program such as yours.

Thank you for all you do, for so many and may your vital work in the community continue.
With much gratitude

Gayle Hillen”
June 2016.

CLAIRE BICKERS, PerthNow
August 3, 2015 11:49pm

BORN with a complex syndrome that affects his balance, hearing and vision, Andy Karkotis has had more than 20 specialists in his young life – but none as welcome as Henry the horse.

The two-year-old, who has a profound hearing loss and no natural balance as a result of CHARGE syndrome, has come along in “leaps and bounds” since he started ride therapy a few months ago.
The energetic toddler is one of hundreds of clients who have sought equine-assisted therapy at the Claremont Therapeutic Riding Centre for physical or mental disabilities over the years.

It has improved his balance, coordination, communication and sensory integration, his mother Wendy said.
“After the first time he got on the horse and we got home, almost straight away it was like a light bulb went on in his head and he decided to start climbing up our flight of stairs,” Ms Karkotis said.

“Up to that point, he’d never attempted to walk up one step let alone a few of them and he walked up five or six himself.

“It’s had an amazing impact on him.”

Andy has seen physical, occupational, and speech therapists but the riding has had a “pivotal” impact on his development, Ms Karkotis said.

Ride therapy helps children with stability or mobility issues because the three dimensional movement of sitting on a horse was almost the same as walking, CTRC volunteer Jo Blomquist said.

Andy Karkotis, 2, has hearing loss and balance issues.

The neuro-physical feedback children got through interacting with a 400-500kg animal was also huge, benefiting movement, confidence and communication, Ms Blomquist said.

“If you’ve got a child who is not very verbal and they manage to say ‘trot’ or gesture the horse to trot and the horse trots – they get this huge excitement and that kind of thing sticks,” she said.

“The excitement and the smiles in their faces, it’s like magic really.”

Clients at the CTRC range from age two to those in their 90s.

The centre caters to a range of people with mental and physical disabilities as well as able bodied riders.
Client Sara Cann even became one of Australia’s first ever equestrian event competitors at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles last month.

The 44-year-old was born with cerebral palsy and first attended the centre at age five for physical therapy to help her walk.

The centre is funded by donations, self-fund raising and Government support.