A therapist is helping vulnerable children overcome stress and trauma by letting them paint her three ponies.
Hannah Rogers, 26, from Bridgend, Wales, is a fully-qualified cognitive behavioral therapist. She believes the equine-assisted therapy is less intrusive for young children than other forms of therapy.
She uses a non-toxic, mineral, chalk-based paint to offer the children a way to express themselves, while bonding with the animals.
‘Equine-assisted therapy is less formal and less intrusive than other therapy,’ Hannah explains. ‘Horses have a calming presence and because they are quite large, it can be empowering for a person to work with them.
‘A lot of the people I work with don’t have strong bonds or relationships in their life and because the bond they create with the horses is a really trusting one, it’s very important to them and so it’s effective.’
Hannah started Equine Therapy Wales last April and came up with the idea after helping a young girl overcome selective mutism.
‘A little girl came to me and she absolutely loved art. She had selective mutism and her parents had tried every type of art-based therapy but nothing worked, she recalls. ‘We tried drawing on the floor with chalk, but it didn’t work, and then when we came up with the idea of the horses. After about five weeks she spoke and it was the most amazing thing.’
She now uses it to treat young people with ADHD, PTSD, depression, anxiety and autism.
Penny Carey, whose son has ADHD, said the equine therapy had made a huge impact: ‘I have seen a big difference in his ability to communicate effectively; he understands his emotions and recognizes the differences between anger and sadness now and can control his anger.’
Hannah is keen to stress that the animals enjoy the sessions too. ‘The paint is 100% safe and it brushes right out,’ she explains. ‘The horses love it because they absolutely love being groomed. They love a fuss and if they did not have it they would miss the attention.
‘I’m such an animal lover and I have been all my life – I’ve never been without animals and I’ve always been around horses.’
Michelle Inch, who supplies Hannah’s ‘all-natural’ paint added: ‘The paint is all natural and the balm is actually healing for the horses. It all washes straight out.
’She went on: ‘Of course you get criticism, but you get that with anything you do. People think it’s okay to put a saddle on a horse and ride it but they don’t like this. It’s just cornflower, chalk and mica crystal – it’s completely safe.’
However, an RSPCA spokesman expressed concern.
‘Some owners may decorate their horses with paint or glitter as a way of pampering them, however it may not always be in the best interests of their welfare,’ he said.
‘There is the potential that some paints or glitters are toxic or harmful to animals. Although some substances may be labelled as being safe for human use, this does not mean that these substances would therefore be suitable for use on animals.
‘There is also the potential that people may use other substances for dyeing or painting, which could prove toxic if ingested by the pet. The process of being painted and the handling involved may also be stressful for some animals.’
Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2016/06/09/woman-offers-controversial-therapy-sessions-where-children-can-paint-on-ponies-5933954/#ixzz4D4luYLCz