Rachelle Martin has recently joined the BAIL team as a clinical researcher. Rachelle has recently completed her PhD which evaluated the effectiveness of therapeutic horse riding (THR) for children living with the experience of disability. In summary, finding from the research suggest that THR contributes to improved participation in valued life roles for children experiencing disability, regardless of their diagnosis. THR was found to be an accessible activity, allowing meaningful participation for children with disability and riders experience the THR therapeutic landscape as a context that promotes their capacities and strengths, rather than their deficits and difficulties. THR also provides opportunities for a broad range of learning experiences, with the child playing an active part in their learning within the intervention. These opportunities contribute to a rider’s enlarged self-concept regarding how they move, what they perceive themselves as being good at, who they connect with, and how well they cope with change.
Rachelle had the privilege of reporting back to the NZRDA Board and at the NZRDA national training seminar for THR coaches, therapists, volunteers and regional board members – turning research into action! It was valuable to be able to talk through the key findings, and then to start to discuss in what ways the conclusions and recommendations could be implemented within national policies and processes, and in how THR is delivered within each of the 56 RDA groups spread across NZ. A real highlight was coming away with a collection of questions and suggestions from people who attended the workshop. These will help guide the development of a range of resources (e.g., online videos, information sheets and training packages) to be used across the NZRDA organisation.