Alex is 11 years old. He is visiting the therapeutic horseback riding center of Diakonie Michaelshoven for three years now. The boy with an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder loves to be on the back of these strong animals. Having contact to these horses helps him to fight his inner unrest.
Today he is riding on Conny, a Belgian coldblooded horse. Cony is very heavy and huge horse, but Alex is sitting on her back as a matter of course, holding the bridle very confidently. He is not afraid at all. “I always enjoy the silence while I am riding. It’s a very relaxing form“, he says. Normally he is very sensitive to noises, he admits. “When we are riding through the forest, there is no sound besides the horse’s hooves. Not many people around me. I Like that.“
Before he started his riding therapy in Michaelshoven, his everyday life was dominated by nervousness and tension. In these three years, he became more balanced and calm. “He increased his frustration tolerance enormously“, says his riding educator Lisa Frost. “He experiences many achievements with our horses. That makes him confident. At the same time he hast o be very patient with these animals, and that wasn’t a strength of him at all“, she says. Even Alex knows: “You improve your conduct by riding horses. Horses are anti-stress. When I’m feeling blue, I lie myself on the horse’s back and I just breathe. I’m feeling better within a minute.“
But it is much more than only riding: grooming and bridling the horse up to a ride is much fun to Alex. He likes to take care oft he horse and to have responsibility. “That makes me proud“, he says. The horse is just like his best friend. “I can tell Conny a secret, and she doesn’t judge me.” Horses are unbiased. “They just take me as I am“, Alex says. „They don’t laugh at me.“
Conny and the other horses in the therapeutic riding center do invaluable work every day. It’s a highlight fort he kids and the young people to go on a ride once a week. The contact to the horses is not understood as a therapy. Riding takes the center stage for them. What they need the most for the maintenance of this riding center are donations. “We could afford Conny just by donations. And all the veterinary costs could be paid by sponsorships. We are very thankful for that – and the kids are as well.”