Lifestyle

Horses help to build trust, resilience and confidence

By Shepparton News

Mooroopna-based therapy program Horses For Hope will host an open day on Sunday for anyone interested in seeing how the program operates.

A Horses for Hope spokesperson said the initiative involved humans and horses working together to overcome stress, trauma or challenges with the aim of creating trust, confidence and resilience.

The spokesperson said many of the Horses for Hope animals had also experienced trauma and needed to heal by establishing trusting relationships with humans.

People attending Sunday’s demonstration will be able to place their name in a hat for the chance to work with a horse under supervision.

Former Horses for Hope participant turned volunteer Phillipa (surname withheld) said the program had changed her life.

The 27-year-old had battled mental health issues that made it difficult to live a fulfilling life.

‘‘I hardly left the house before I started the Horses for Hope program,’’ Phillipa said.

‘‘I was going through counselling at the time and was referred to the program to help me open up and talk through my problems.

‘‘It was a bit scary to start with, meeting new people and stepping out of my comfort zone. But as soon as I walked into the yard with the horse, I started to settle in.’’

Phillipa now has confidence to leave the house and take part in social activities.

‘‘I started off by talking to people about the horses and then found myself opening up about my own problems. It’s definitely helped me to open up and form friendships,’’ she said.

Phillipa has since undertaken a range of volunteer roles across the program, from bookwork to feeding the horses, to continue building her skills and confidence.

‘‘The horses have issues just like the people who take part in the program. You know they have been through tough times as well, so you start to form a bond with them,’’ she said.

‘‘I love giving them cuddles.’’

The program also provides leadership, management and team building programs for corporate and community sector organisations.

Sunday’s demonstration takes place from 1.30pm at 840 Ardmona Rd, Mooroopna North. Phone 58316157 for more details.