Operation Centaur - Wellbeing

Centaur Connections - People with special needs

Grace approached Jim, a 20-something Shire horse, as she does everything in her life – her arm across her face, elbow pointing skywards, head bent to one side. She glances furtively at him. She is caught out that his eyes are on the side of his head, and briefly makes eye contact. Tears fill her eyes. In later sessions, she confidently stays on her own with two horses in the arena. She walks in the field with the herd and smiles.

We were told that Jamie never sits still, and has very bad spatial awareness. Contact with the horses seems to contain him, and stop him in his tracks. In session two, he was sitting on the ground, legs folded, staring at Jim in front of the gate. In session twelve, he was leaning against the fence, with Heath and Likely Lad on either side of him.

Equine Assisted Therapy, Hyde Park
Equine Assisted Therapy, Hyde Park

Jack brings his football to the sessions, and teaches us how to kick it. As we pretend not to understand, he meticulously moves us in such a way that we learn how to play though his teaching. He is careful to wait for the horses to walk by before he kicks.

Nicole is like a whirlwind when she enters. She tries to jump on the horses, but they won’t stand still. Zoltan is with his mare, Philippa, and he sends Nicole away with a single head movement – she understands and backs off. In session seven, she tries to mount Jim, who stands at 18 hands. She climbs the fence to be higher. In session eleven, she again tries to jump on Zoltan. They enter a ‘dance’, where both are turning so they keep facing each other. Zoltan gives several warnings, with head, ears and legs, which she understands. Nicole climbs out of the arena and brings some grass, which she offers to Zoltan. He accepts the food, but when she then tries to mount him, he still prevents her from doing so.

Ahmed runs towards the big horse and beats him with both fists, hard. As he feels that the horse is not moving, a smile beams across his face. He gently kisses the horse.

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Operation Centaur, Holly Lodge, Richmond Park, Richmond, Surrey TW10 5HS
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In partnership with The Royal Parks, Historic Royal Palaces and  Shire Horse Society