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Grateful Co Down mother hails 'miraculous' effect of horse riding on sons

New equine therapy charity aims to help others with disability saddle up


Benefits: George Warmington with his brother Matthew

Benefits: George Warmington with his brother Matthew

Benefits: George Warmington with his brother Matthew

A Co Down mother has spoken of how her two disabled sons have shown "miraculous" progress with their walking and talking after interacting with horses for the first time.

Corinn Warmington is one of a number of parents supporting a new charity promoting the benefits of equine therapy.

One Equine Trust (OET) is the brainchild of five seasoned business leaders who say Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning (EAT&L) is an inspirational way of using horses to support mental and physical health.

Trust spokesman is Richard Moore, the former chairman of the NI Meat Exporters Association and the NI Food and Drink Association.

Richard, who has horses himself, said there are no limits to what can be achieved from accessible, affordable and accredited equine services.

He added: "Our goal is that Northern Ireland will be known as a region of excellence, recognised internationally, for the practice of equine assisted therapies, the training of therapists, and advancing research.

"EAT&L interventions can be implemented early and more effectively than certain conventional therapies and we believe that the total costs of therapeutic interventions can actually be reduced by incorporating EAT&L in approved lists."

The OET says there's been a huge growth in the number of people working in EAT&L across the world.

"We've already had meaningful talks with four Executive departments: Health, Education, Justice and Agriculture," said Mr Moore. "And though the lockdown has been problematic for everyone, we've had seminars and webinars with input from ministers Robin Swann, Peter Weir and Edwin Poots.

"We have also produced a study exploring the way forward."

Corrin said she's been amazed at the advances that her boys have made since they started horse riding.

George (12), a year 8 pupil at Bangor Academy, was diagnosed in November 2011 with a rare epilepsy syndrome which saw him having regular seizures, while eight-year-old Matthew, who has autism, only started speaking just before he went to primary school.

Corrin was told by a physio that horse riding could be a useful therapy for her sons, but the only groups in her area at the time weren't accessible for children in mainstream schools.

Later she discovered a Riding for the Disabled group at Ballyboley near Carrowdore coached by Hilary Jones, the wife of broadcaster George Jones, would welcome her boys.

And she said the results from the hippotherapy were dramatic, adding: "My boys have got so much education and health benefits.

"They've attended occupational health, physiotherapy, neurologists, paediatricians in the past but going to horse riding once a week for half-an-hour has improved their listening, communication, concentration and posture."

Corrin said she can't explain what has happened but she's only glad that it has, adding: "I don't know how getting on a horse has improved Matthew's speech so remarkably for example, but that is exactly what has happened."

Belfast Telegraph