Horses work magic for kids like Na­vanah

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By MON­ICA TIS­CHLER

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.

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