Katy lives in Kent in Supported Housing and has learning difficulties, very limited communication skills and challenging behaviour.
Katy started coming to Kits Coty every Friday with Donna, her main support worker, and another care assistant at the beginning of 2016. The aim was to give Katy a new experience and to spend some time outside, being active and interacting with the horses and ponies. Suzanne Halsey, a member of the ELF team, works closely with Donna to guide Katy through the sessions and to enable Katy to gain as much out of each session as possible.This was a new experience for Katy and none of us knew quite what to expect, however the interaction between Katy and the ponies and horses has been nothing short of amazing.
Katy has been interacting with three of our equine friends – Dame Maggie and Princess Rose who mother and daughter Shetland ponies and were both rescued ponies, Lorna who is a little bigger and used by her owner for general riding and competing. All three are excellent with Katy – the horses just seem to know and understand Katy and her needs and behave with impeccable manners.
Since coming to us, Katy has learnt to hold the rope correctly and lead them around, over and through obstacles and is happy to brush them and comb their manes and tails – something that she hadn’t previously liked having done to herself! Katy is encouraged to participate in all aspects of caring for the horses and particularly enjoys helping to muck out the stables. Even when it has been wet and muddy, Katie has been happy to help, improving her co-ordination and balance walking on on slippery ground.
More recently, Katy developed a way of greeting the horses (and sometimes us!) with what we have fondly called the ‘Katy Nose Rub’. She lokes to rub her nose on the horses noses to say ‘Hello’ – this all promotes interaction between Katy and the horses and is also helping to improve her interaction with us and her carers. She is also learning that she has to be responsible for the task that we have asked her to do and her attention span is developing and sustained a little longer a at every session
The Friday visits are giving Katy so much more confidence and making such positive differences to her life. She is learning new skills that in turn are also helping her to gain life skills and the enjoyment she gets from her sessions is obvious for all to see.
Donna, Katy’s Support Worker, also enjoys these sessions immensely. She observes Katy getting so much out of her visits and she secretly enjoys sharing the time with the horses too
Our black cat ‘Shadow’ always makes a regular appearance on the yard every time Katy is around
This is what Donna had to tell us a bit about her visits with Katy so far:
“Katy thoroughly enjoys the time she spends with Suzanne and the horses and it is proving to be very therapeutic. She [Katy]shows a real interest in looking after their needs and genuinely cares for them. This shows when she is clearing their stables, grooming, exercising them around their school, giving them food and treats and and has just recently has learnt how to clean their hooves and give the ponies a bath! Suzanne has a really excellent approach with Katy consistently and instinctively changing things to hold Katy’s interest and to keep her focused which can be a challenge at times. I cannot thank Suzanne and Alex enough, these sessions has been invaluable to Katy and are teaching her how to be responsible for the well being of the horses”