New Riding Arena for Children with Special Needs
Three percent of Thai children have special needs, according to the CMUHippotherapy web site, a collaborative programme working through horses with special needs children here in Chiang Mai. There is a lack of access to good care and therapy for these thousands of children as they need to have special and professionally trained personnel working with them on their physical, emotional as well as social development. Teaching parents how to interact and work with special needs children is also another big challenge.
For the past ten years, the Department of Physical Therapy, the Laddaland Equestrian Club, Rajanagarindra Institute of Child Development and the Pack Squadron have been working with developmentally challenged children, using horses as therapy – hippotherapy.
Horses have the ability to fascinate children and the gentle nature of a well-trained horse can build up confidence in a child, so that the child becomes trusting and open to learning so that he or she can better interact with the horse. Once the confidence is built, the child will be inspired to push him or herself further to overcome obstacles. Basic dressage moves help children with their memory and movement while also being fun and physically challenging.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Khwanchai Kheuasukon, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine said, in a press conference this month that thanks in part to the philanthropy of Dit Linpisan who donated 500,000 baht, the group now has an indoor riding arena to support the programme even further.
The uncle of an eight year old boy, Kim, who suffered brain damage after a difficult birth which strangled oxygen into his brain, also said at the press conference that the project had been instrumental in his nephew’s improvements and that he had been in the programme for 3-4 years and had noticeable improvements in many of his symptoms as well as being better in temperament and no longer prone to frustrated tantrums. Kim’s motor skills and balance were better and he could now walk when he was unable to before. His muscular progress was becoming more flexible, and this is attributed to his regular riding lessons.