Loving horses can help

Shumbashaba is not an ordinary riding school. Its focus is different.  They look at how horses can positively impact people and change lives.  Each week, 70 children arrive for riding and non-riding programmes. Participants range from adults and children with severe disabilities, to those wanting to ride as an extracurricular activity.

The riding programmes encompass therapeutic riding and integrated riding as sport and recreation.  The non-riding programmes focus on the healing power of horses, which is enhanced through experiential therapy on the ground. Hippotherapy is the use of equine assisted therapy as an effective treatment strategy that improves the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.

Currently funds received from private fee-paying clients contribute the lion’s share to covering the costs for these programmes. Shumbashaba has registered as a Trust and is embarking on a fund raising campaign to ensure these programmes are able to continue.

Why are horses perfect for therapy? “Horses have long been recognised as a source of entertainment and pleasure. In the wild they are prey animals whose very existence depends on their ability to sense the underlying current or emotion of their surroundings. As a domesticated animal, that inherent ability remains acute and they are instantly attuned to any lack of congruency in those around them. When coupled with their basic curiosity and playfulness, horses become skilled at interpreting and echoing exactly what human body language is conveying, in the process teaching awareness, integrity, respect and trust,” explains Sharon Boyce, founder of Shumbashaba.

Horses are masterful at teaching life lessons and making core changes in the way we approach our lives. And, for those willing to pause for a moment in the company of these majestic animals, many have found moments of intense peace in an otherwise hectic, demanding, frustrating, challenging and sometimes scary world.

Sharon explains how it all began: “I don’t think I actually started Shumbashaba – it found me. It became the expression of my love for people and horses.  At every turn when things have happened and aspects of the programme have been born it has been because I sensed that this was the right thing for me to do.”  Today she is an internationally recognised trainer and mentor for the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).

Shumbashaba is reliant on a significant number of volunteers, who donate their skills, time and services to the different areas from side-walking children with significant disabilities participating in our hippotherapy programme to providing meals for our mini feeding scheme. Fundraising for the community based programmes is also required in order that they can continue and increase in capacity.

Anyone who feels that they have a set of skills and time to volunteer should get in touch.

This is Sharon’s story of help. If you would like to help:

Sharon Boyce, 084 500 0672, sharon@shumbashaba.co.za