Riding for a cause
Notwane Equestrian Centre provides children with horse riding skills
The Notwane Equestrian Centre has been operational since 2017. Since they started operation, they have been very passionate about bringing Children in contact with Horses and Horse Riding, says Heidi Kalterherberg.
The long- term aim has always been to educate the children in handling horses, gaining respect for and enjoying the relationship to these large animals. It is a proven fact that children gain self- confidence when they succeed in controlling a horse which is many times their own weight and size, she explains. Their big dream is to nurture local children to become competitive riders and elevate to a level where they can represent the country in national and international competition.
Today, they have 24 horses and ponies, and are expecting fowls by the end of the year. The horses are taken care of by six handlers. They also happen to have a number of rescue horses that are enjoying retirement at the centre, but are not engaged in any tasks on the centre.
According to Kalterherberg, the idea for a Children Riding Programme was born soon after they started their popular ‘ Guided Pony Rides’ in 2018 – where Children and Adult guests and customers are taken on a Ride across their spacious Property and down to the beautiful waterfront of the Notwane Dam.
“Each horse is guided and controlled by one of our Horse Handlers, and children as young as 2 years are permitted to enjoy these rides. This exciting
experience – often the first such close encounter for the riders ever with a Pony or a horse – has ignited an amazing interest in becoming a more avid Horse- back rider, and the challenge to learn to control and manage a horse, but also the feeling of ‘ companionship’ and ‘ team with the horse’ has resulted in a significant and constant rise of the numbers of Horse- Riding fans,” she says. The Horse- riding adventure is one that everyone must try. It is so beautiful to be able to sit on a horse even for those who had a fear of horses, and just trust this animal to do what it has been trained to do. The opportunity to stand at the Notwane water banks is one that literally blows one away. One gets to see as far as their eyes can see, and they get to take in nature, and breathe the air from the river.
Kalterherberg further shares that they have been very fortunate to bring Sian Thomas, a British Horse- Riding instructor with an admirable professional history on board. Thomas received the Instructor’s Certificate of the British Horse Society 28 years ago, and was rewarded the ‘ International HorseRiding Instructor Level 3’ in 2012; thus being one of, if not the Highest Qualified Horse- Riding instructor in the country. She has exceptional skills, and it is these skills that have led to an increase of Horse- Riding students in the past couple of months. Once the Covid- 19 restriction are lifted, she is planning to conduct and choreograph the Children’s programmes at the Equestrian Centre.
She further says that they have a flow of guest Horse Riding instructors from Germany who love to encounter the life and wildlife in Botswana and support their initiatives with their ‘ pro- bono’ participation.
“They also are avid supporters of our efforts to educate our local Horse handlers and Grooms and elevate and improve their skills. Our friend, Mrs. Christa Hinrichsen, who happens to be a Trainer for the German ‘ Special Olympics’ Team, came and trained with children from the Camphill Community Trust and demonstrated the amazing beneficial effect of the ‘ Therapy disguised as Fun’ initiative, and encourages challenged children with the saying ‘ On a horse, everyone has 4 healthy legs’,” she says.
Presently, she notes that they enjoy the visit of Silke Wünsch, who is not only a Horse- Riding instructor from Germany, but a certified Equestrian Physiotherapist, trained in Acupuncture of the horses, a passion and skill she has demonstrated to their clients and staff alike. Currently, most activities are just waiting for Covid- 19 restrictions to be lifted.
An exciting development, she says that due to financial constraints for some families they understand and appreciate that not all parents can afford to buy their children the gear which includes helmets, safety jacket and cover the costs for the riding lessons hence they are working on setting up a Trust Fund to bridge the gap. The idea is to afford all youth of Botswana to be part of their community irrespective of their financial background.
“We hope for the support by Local businesses, but also are using our contacts in Germany and Kuwait to initiate Sponsorships,” she says.