An rehabilitation centre in Keswick is working with horses to help people recover from brain injuries.
Calvert Reconnections is the UK’s first acquired brain injury (ABI) rehabilitation centre combining traditional clinical therapies with physical activity in the outdoors. Among the range of facilities available at Reconnections is the Lake District Calvert Trust Riding Centre, a British Horse Society approved riding school which offers riding and carriage driving for people of all abilities.
The stables are purpose-built with indoor and outdoor arenas, viewing gallery, state-of-the-art lifts and electronic hoists. For those unable to ride, there are adapted wheelchair accessible traps.
The benefits of equine activities in brain injury rehabilitation are recognised through independent research.
A study by the University of Basel found that animal assisted activities, including the use of horses, can significantly improve the social behaviour and communication skills of patients suffering from brain injuries.
The research found that that the benefits of equine activities include how highly motivated patients are to care for the horse. The effect is seen particularly strongly in people who are hard to reach through standard therapies, either because of issues with social interaction or problems with cognitive function and verbal communication.
Further research from the US found that the movement of the horse at walk gives the rider balance, coordination and self-confidence. It also confirmed that rhythm and motion is therapeutic, as the the body gains strength through its adjustment to the horse’s gait.
Stables Manager Henri Carew, trainer and RDA coach, has over 20 years’ experience working with children and adults of varying disabilities through the Calvert Trust.
“The vocational opportunities for participants are having a hugely positive impact on their life,” Henri said. “It motivates them to get out of bed in the morning to look after the horses and creates a structure to their day. They become part of our team and some go on to support other riders which is so empowering.
“This all takes the focus off the participant’s own challenges and on to the care of the horses and other riders.”
The centre is currently taking referrals. For further information visit www.calvertreconnections.org.uk