Brushing Twister for the first time, Carla wipes away a few tears. They are not sadness but the emotion is too strong. The 20-year-old suffers from behavioral problems. His white pony is there to appease him. He does that very well.
In the neighboring box, Luna is at home. Carrier of Down’s syndrome, she carefully coaxes the one who has become her friend for months: Champs, a white pony too. Every Wednesday, when you have to take charge of the pony club of Chailly-en-Bière (Seine-et-Marne), she displays a wide smile from ear to ear: “Luna looks forward to this moment every week, it’s her. point of reference in his schedule. Before the sessions, she let herself be carried by the pony who did what he wanted. From now on, it is she who directs it, ”slips her mother.
“Horses feel our emotions”
From the top of her 12 years, she does not express herself easily and sometimes uses sign language. To “ride a horse,” she straddles the index and middle fingers of her right hand on the same two fingers of her left hand. Because of his disability, many physical activities are closed to him.
But horsemanship opens its doors wide to him. The horse suddenly becomes the best friend of the handicap, whether it is physical or mental: “What we do with Carla and Luna, as with many children or adults, is adapted horse riding. equitherapy is a component, confides Gabriel Roche, psychologist by profession and riding instructor by passion. Horses have this immense quality: they feel our emotions, our weaknesses, our handicaps, our fears too. In relation to our behavior, the horse therefore adapts to the situation, which is remarkable. ”
For an hour each week, the two friends, Carla and Luna, take care of their mount from start to finish: they brush, saddle, ride and finish with the care. They are there to grow with their weakness, to tame it and ultimately gain strength from it through their four-legged friend. Once in the saddle, all riders are alike.
“The horse,” resumes Gabriel Roche, “is not a therapeutic tool. It’s more than that, he’s a mediator. This is very true with autistic children who have communication problems. The horse allows them to express themselves without verbal language. Through what the children try to transmit to him, we can better cross the barrier to understand what they feel. ” The horse creates this bond with people locked up against their will in their world.
Luna and Carla don’t need an intermediary to express their little happiness in the quarry, the closed place where horse riding is practiced. Their laughter on horseback says it all when you ask them for an outside rein to turn, lean back to stop their proud mount or even when it comes to touching the ears or the tail of the pony to work on flexibility. And when Gabriel asks for the trot, it’s like a birthday present: “For disabled people to have fun,” summarizes the instructor, “you have to bring them a minimum of basic technical baggage so that they know how to steer the horse. , stop it, put it back in line. “
A discipline that improves the coordination of gestures
You have to be able to hold on to the saddle if you don’t know how to ride a horse even if neither of the two friends will be an Olympic rider. Even though… “Horse riding is a sport that helps build muscle,” resumes Gabriel Roche. It allows you to find your balance both physically and psychologically, for example when you have to bend over the mount. Holding the reins well improves fine motor skills and coordination of movements. ” The benefits are almost endless.
Contact with the horse also forces one to concentrate, to pay attention to others in an essential relationship of trust. This is valid for able-bodied riders, but sometimes people with disabilities may lack the confidence that the horse offers them. Without any ulterior motive, contrary to the judgment of men which can, sometimes, be still cruel.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr