Animal therapists help heal traumatized and special needs children at LIV Village


Horses are sensitive animals and working with them greatly helps children who have suffered trauma.

LIV Village, near Verulam, recently relaunched its Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) program to help children cope with their past experiences.

“When some of these children arrive in the village, they are so traumatized that they will not speak to any of the other children or adults. Often times, we’ve found that being around an animal can be an important first step in making it comfortable, ”said Sanchia Stanford, horse specialist and LIV volunteer.

The horse is a flight animal, which makes it very sensitive to what is going on around them.

Sanchia Stanford is the new Equine Assisted Therapy Program Manager at LIV Village. She has a background in animal sciences with a particular focus on horses.

When faced with a non-threatening child, they can demonstrate an extraordinary understanding of the situation, she said.

“Children are able to influence and control these huge animals, giving them a sense of control over their own lives.”

There are also real health benefits, especially for children with developmental disorders or cerebral palsy.

“We offer hippotherapy, which has proven to make a big difference in the quality of life of these children. It gives a positive change in neurochemicals, lowers heart rate, blood pressure and stress. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the smiles that abound in children when they are able to interact with horses.

Bongani spends time alone with one of the horses at LIV Village.

Hippotherapy is the use of horseback riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitation treatment, especially as a means of improving coordination, balance and strength.

In the EAT program, children learn how to take care of horses, including riding them and gaining knowledge about the grooming process.

This means that aside from the initial therapeutic aspect, many children also have an advantage when considering a career focused on horseback riding later in life.

EAT can have an extremely positive impact on a child’s life, but unfortunately it comes at a significant financial cost.

Horses are expensive to maintain, and the equipment needed to manage them effectively also comes at a high price.

If you have equipment that you have already liked, or anything related to the accommodation and care of the horses to donate, you can send an email [email protected]

They are also looking for people willing to offer their expertise as a groomer, farrier or veterinarian.

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