Based on a 14 acre campus in Topsham Road, Exeter, WESC Foundation (WESC) – The Specialist Centre for Visual Impairment – provide education, health, care, therapy and mobility. Riding therapy is often used as a prescribed physiotherapy to help to mobilise learners. The WESC therapy team welcomed the delivery of a magnificent black stallion named ‘Winston’, a bespoke designed Horse Simulator.
The charity launched its ‘Horse Simulator Fundraising Appeal’ at Exeter Racecourse in spring last year to raise the 25,000 needed. The RDA (Riding for Disabled) simulator was designed and manufactured by Racewood Equestrian Simulators, a unique and patented product professionally recognised and recommended across the world.
Speaking of the benefits of riding therapy, Sue Stagg – Therapy Team Lead, WESC said: “We are so grateful for the fundraising that helped us achieve the target of 25,000 and are delighted with the arrival of Winston. For the physiotherapist, the horse is a dynamic treatment tool, whether it be real or a simulator. The horse imparts a rhythmical movement to the rider, which is similar to the movement of the human pelvis during normal walking. This exercise is particularly beneficial for learners who are wheelchair bound. Other benefits include, but are not limited to: improved postural alignment; strengthening of muscle groups; promoting relaxation in children with spasticity; improved head control; peer interaction and confidence building.”
Riding therapy is a technique that has significant benefits for the individual rider, and is a prescribed form of physiotherapy. For more able learners, regular riding lessons in the indoor arena at Oaklands Riding School, Exeter in association with RDA. Learners who need additional support, greatly benefit from riding a horse simulator. On the WESC campus, learners can be hoisted onto Winston and supported, while they ride whilst in a familiar environment.
Sue Stagg comments: “Winston allows students, unable to transfer to the stables due to physical difficulties, to access all the benefits of riding a horse. The advantages of riding therapy are significant – we’ve seen learners initially unable to hold themselves up on a horse, or ride unassisted, progress to riding independently with full control of the reins.”