Horses work magic for kids like Navanah
Horse riding helps give Navanah Uerata-Tana the focus and determination she needs to get by in the classroom and at home.
The 7-year-old has highfrequency permanent hearing loss and is among about 40 children in the outreach programme Totally Horse.
The Massey-based charitable trust was established five years ago by Judith and Graeme Cochrane.
Young participants are paired with rescue horses to develop important skills and qualities including respect, responsibility, co-operation and attitude awareness.
Navanah’s mum Anahera Murray-Uerata says her daughter is more focused since she started the programme.
And that has helped her in other areas of life.
‘‘When it’s working here it works at home and at school.
‘‘She’s more patient and attentive now and her listening has improved,’’ she says.
‘‘It’s helped her understand that these are qualities you need to have not only around a horse and the instructors but at home and school.’’
Totally Horse partners with organisations and schools to support, guide and educate youth with conditions including autism, aspergers, speech impediments and severe behavioural difficulties.
It also helps families struggling financially to bond with horses affordably.
Students showing potential and commitment can also take part in leadership programmes to develop skills and teach and empower others.
Judith Cochrane says it’s rewarding witnessing ‘‘magic moments’’ between a child and horse where confidence and self esteem is gained.
‘‘When new children start they’re shy and withdrawn but at the end of a session we see instant blooming in their confidence,’’ she says.
The Cochranes use a natural approach with the horses that includes bitless bridles and no kicking, whipping or shouting at them.
Communication comes through body language, explains Graeme Cochrane and isn’t about control.
Judith Cochrane says horses have the ability to heal and empower people because of their ‘‘nonjudgmental nature’’.
‘‘Horses are very authentic and are good at mirroring our emotions and energies,’’ she says.
‘‘They know if you’re feeling hurt, sad or anxious,’’ she says.