New club launched to help children with disabilities

The  Hippotherapy group in Shilbottle
The Hippotherapy group in Shilbottle

A new community club enabling children with disabilities to access a fun, physical and therapeutic sport activity on a horse has been launched.

Angela Torsch, from Bilton, is behind Hippotherapy Northumberland, which starts tomorrow at Shilbottle’s Townfoot Stables.

Hippotherapy is a form of therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully-graded motor and sensory input.

It is a treatment approach that uses activities on the horse that are meaningful to the client and specifically address the individual’s goals.

Angela, a recently-retired NHS local community paediatric physiotherapist who is qualified in hippotherapy, will lead the sessions, assisted by helpers around the horse and child.

She said: “The intention is to present this as an activity the child with disabilities can engage in and gain from, physically, emotionally, cognitively and relationally, and helps to encourage posture, strength and balance.

“For many, it is the first time they can engage in a leisure/recreational pursuit and it is a very special opportunity that raises the quality of life for children with even severe disabilities.

“It differs from, but can lead to Riding for Disabled, helping many who are not yet able to access this fantastic service.”

The club, which has already attracted four volunteers, will be delivering six-block sessions, inclusive of a pre and post-block assessment, for no more than £105, plus £6 annual family club membership. A gift card is also being produced.

This year, it is expected that the club’s capacity will be for 12 children over the next three months (two lots of six-week sessions). It is hoped this would stretch to 25 children next year.

Angela said: “The aim of this is to engender a community atmosphere between member families, creating the opportunity for social outlet and interaction with other disabled children and their siblings.”

The club has made an appeal for sponsorship, as well as help with setting up its website.

For more information or to help the club, email hipponorth