Equine Therapy for Children with Disabilities

By Murniati Abu Karim
Photo University Community Transformation Center UKM

PUTRAJAYA, 18 December 2021 – Horses are big, powerful animals. Despite their size, children are not afraid to develop an affinity for the animal as being around them can be therapeutic.

This is what inspires the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Equine Club to provide children with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy horses and the benefits of therapeutic riding.

UKM Equine Club in collaboration with Spectrum International School, SSC Resources and the University Community Transformation Center UKM organised ‘Mesra Santai Bersama Si Kuda’ programme to foster a sense of community and appreciation for horses among its participants.

According to Equine Club president Sarah Mohd Hilmee, the club was established with the intention of sharing equestrian knowledge to the university students whilst developing soft skills as part of the teaching and learning curriculum as well as to build empathy towards society through acts of volunteerism.

“As of now, the activities of the club are centered on volunteerism. The programmes allowed children with disabilities to interact and even ride the horses with our full supervision and support.

“More than just therapy, interaction with horses benefits their muscle tone, coordination, confidence, and overall well-being.

“Through this programme, not only are the club members able to gain equestrian knowledge but are able to hone their ability to communicate well, develop lasting bonds and friendships between one another and between special needs children. This in turn, creates a more caring and loving society.

“With the tagline ‘Horses for all walks of life’, the ideals and spirit of inclusivity is embodied in the activities that are organised by the club.

“It is also part of the university’s role to produce students that are not only knowledgeable but care for society, the activities organised by the club are able to further strengthen the students’ education through experiential learning.

“Through these activities, students are exposed on how to work in a quadruple helix platform that involves the university, community, industry and government agency. This will enhance the role of the university for society in providing solutions for the community,” she said.

The programme was graced by Tengku Syarif Temenggong Perlis Dato’ Seri DiRaja Syed Amir Abidin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail, who is the Malaysian Equine Council chairman, and Che Puan Temenggong Perlis Datin Seri DiRaja Farinawati Datuk Mohd Din.