FEI European Championships Werkenalseenpaard Speciaal Onderwijs

Special Education - Work like a horse

After a pilot implemented during the 2016 May holidays, we launched in the school year 2016/2017 a multiannual program, where 15 disabled children (7 to 12 years old) from St. Mattheus School in Rotterdam (a school for children with multiple disabilities) visited Rijvereniging de Hazelaar (a riding school specialized in adapted sports) for a program that lasted a whole school year, all free of charge. The school made these weekly sessions part of their learning program. Individual plans are made for each student in which it is evaluated how the use of horses can stimulate their personal development.

From January 2019, a new extra group will start because of the European Championships.

Five children with various disabilities from Huize Thomas come with guidance from the day care center once a week to the De Hazelaar Riding Association (with the exception of school holidays). The lessons last approximately one hour and have a fixed start and end ritual. Many children benefit from clarity, predictability and repetition.

The supervisors of Huize Thomas make a personal development plan for each student, which is worked on during the training. Supervisors from Huize Thomas and instructors from De Hazelaar Riding Association have regular consultations about lesson structure and the learning objectives set.

Huize Thomas has made the training of the children during the "Working as a Horse" project part of the program. Examples of learning objectives for the children are: independently carrying out an assignment, asking for help themselves, naming objects and animals, stroking animals such as horses and dogs, accepting instructions, giving a hand on arrival and departure and looking at someone if there is anything against it is being talked to him / her. Sitting on a horse or riding a horse is usually part of the training, but this is slowly being worked towards. Getting in contact with the horses (or other animals) or walking next to the horses is a big task for some children. The training can also consist in part of playing with sand, straw or hay and taking care of the horses. At the end of the year there is a festive gathering where the children receive a diploma. The parents of the children are also invited for this. The program runs throughout the year.

The CHIO Rotterdam Foundation and the Trust Fund Equestrian Alliance Rotterdam are in favor of offering the program for several years. As a result, schools can make the project part of their curriculum, some children can participate in the program for several years, and the training is most effective for the children.

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This European Championship is a qualifying moment for the Olympic Games in 2020
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