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Total Swindon

Free Opportunity for SEN Children to Take the Reins and Shine

Local equestrian centre Rein & Shine is generously offering a ‘Free Trial’ to schools with SEN (Special Educational Needs) children in order to demonstrate the benefits that Animal Assisted Therapy can have on a child’s overall quality of life.

This brand new horse riding and care facility, based just outside Swindon in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, is owned and run by husband and wife duo, John and Johanna McDonald. They have already teamed up with a number of local SEN schools and have seen, first-hand, the hugely positive effects that their horses’ are having on the lives of children with a number of physical and mental disabilities. They’re so delighted with the life-changing results they have made the easy decision to further open this service to more schools with children suffering from any of the hundreds of disabilities that we see in society today.

“A horse’s ability to read human emotions is perhaps why we turn to them in times of need.” Said Johanna McDonald, Owner of Rein & Shine. “A horse is naturally a herd animal that looks for a leader and in domestic circumstances they turn to us for guidance, which gives the children a sense of purpose and is a way to improve self-confidence and self-awareness. This in-turn can enhance mental and physical wellbeing which can help with social skills.” 

She added: “We’re so delighted with the results of this service to SEN children that we would like to offer schools new to Animal Assisted Therapy the opportunity to attend Rein & Shine for an hour to spend time with our horses and even have a go at riding if they wish to.”

To certify the positive changes that Animal Assisted Therapy is having, Rein & Shine has several documented case studies which showcase how horse riding and horse care can provide beneficial therapy for SEN children. One example is Child A, who of course cannot be named for legal reasons.

Child A is a young girl under 10-years-of-age who often exhibits violent behaviour to other children, carers and parents. She is a sufferer of ADHD and is also on the Autistic Spectrum. Furthermore, she had been victim to a turbulent home life and suffers from an inability to show caring to others which makes her too disruptive to attend school for more than a few hours per day.

Child A has been attending Rein and Shine for several months to learn how to care for living creatures, and gain an understanding of the need to respect living beings and in-turn herself.

At first she was very shy (the opposite to her behaviour at school and at home) and has slowly increased her confidence week on week. She has not once exhibited any violent or uncaring behaviour to the horses, if fact Child A becomes attentive and caring towards them. A calmness and focus has developed to a point where she now incorporates riding into the weekly session.

Animal Assisted Therapy of caring for horses has progressively improved Child A’s communication with adults at and away from the centre. A positive impact has been documented with a reduction in the level of disruptive behaviour, improved sleep patterns and, for the first time, displays levels of motivation with excitement to return to the horses each week.

This is just one example of how Animal Assisted Therapy can help a child. There are so many more ways it can help a child or even an adult suffering from abuse, mental health and physical disabilities to name but a few. Horses provide a therapy that humans often can’t.

Nyland Campus primary school in Swindon, a special school for children with social, emotional and mental health needs, have been benefitting hugely from their sessions at Rein & Shine. Nyland Campus Principle, Becky O’Brian, is delighted with the results. She said:

“The children, and staff, thoroughly enjoy these sessions and gain so much from this opportunity. It's fantastic to see children, who are faced with so many challenges trying to get through the school day, become completely immersed in these sessions. The therapeutic side to their time here is outstanding as we watch children so engrossed in caring for the horse after they have been riding. It's also been great to see children become more resilient and conquer their fears and anxieties by riding the horses. We’re extremely grateful to all at Rein & Shine for making this possible.”

The offer is open to all schools with SEN children that haven’t ridden or attended the facility before. Any interested schools please get in touch with Rein & Shine Director Johanna McDonald to book your free slot: 01666 860068 |

If you feel your child will benefit from this unique opportunity, then please contact your school.

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