There is a place of magic in Novogoreevo. What looks like at first sight a normal riding school is in fact a place where children with severe motor skills disorders such as autism and down syndrome receive help which helps them do what they most need to do: connect with the world around them. Visiting there is a truly moving experience.

This charity, which has been helping children for 20 years, uses horses as part of its therapy. Artem Ivanov, who is in charge of physiotherapy at the centre, and semi-paralyzed himself from the waist down, explains:

“To control the movements of a horse as it moves means that the rider has to be able to control all the main muscle groups in his [the rider’s] legs, as well as his hands. This creates a training base for riders with any kind of movement problems. A horse’s temperature is two degrees warmer than ours, and because of this, the rider’s muscles warm up and relax. All this has a tremendously positive effect on the rider’s coordination and balance. I myself discovered this treatment and without it I wouldn’t have been able to enter university and integrate with the world. Not everything in our country is designed for people in wheelchairs!


“Children with autism need to establish contact with the outside world, and the horse becomes the link. You don’t need to speak to be able to make contact with a horse, which suits children with autism, but he or she must be able to correctly move his legs and arms. The horse doesn’t move unless the rider gives the corrects sequence of commands with his legs and hands, and learning these is really useful for any child with motor skills disorders.

“The horses have a kind of calming therapeutic effect, for example, children so want to communicate with the horse that they try to make words come out of their mouths even if previously they have never spoken. We have seen cases where the work ‘walk’ was the first thing that an autistic child ever uttered. Then slowly their speech, sensitivity, and intellect improves. The horses speed up the process of integration of the autistic child with other human beings.

Selection_008“Severely autistic children may have difficulty in determining where their right or left leg is, how tall they are, where their eyes are. But they can see that in comparison with a horse, he is she is small, and in comparison with Vanya, he or she is big. If the rider moves one of his legs, the horse makes one movement, if he moves another, the horse makes a different movement. The physiotherapy is joyful, and is full of positive emotions. The mother is happy to watch her child riding. None of the children are aware that they are being cured, that they are fighting with their illness, they are too busy! In other cases like with me, they are learning how to control a horse so that they can take part in competitions with other disabled children.”

Artem’s mother, Lidia Ivanova who manages the centre added: “All the horses are trained in a special way, and the instructors have to receive professional training. There is a lot involved in running this operation even though we only have six horses, which means that the centre is quite expensive to run. For example, we form groups of five or six children, no more, and there has to be two or three absolutely normal children in each group, because if one heavily autistic child starts to behave in a certain way, a different child, also with autistic problems will start to do the same thing. One will begin to shout, another will bite, a third will shake his or head around, and so on.

Selection_007Nevertheless, Preodolenie has been operating successfully for 20 years now, and I can say that the positive results on all the children that have come through here has been remarkable. We are tremendously grateful to the Irish Business Club and other organisations for the support they have given us. We cannot survive on government grants alone. Your help literally means that we know that we will be able to buy feed for the horses and pay essential staff. This year we have been able to buy a special carriage for those children who are so ill that they cannot sit on a horse, but nevertheless benefit from communicating with them. It also means that we can charge less for lessons, this is important because many families are not very well off. We may even be able to afford this year to hire somebody to help with the lifting work involved with putting children on horses and taking them off again.

To help Preodolenie, contact Hugh McEnaney, Secretary of the Irish Business Club via
http://www.moscowirishclub.ru/ ,
or Preodelenie direct.

111396, г. Москва, Союзный проспект, д. 4, под. 8
Telephone: +7 (495) 301-61-50, +7 (495) 301-05-77
President: Lidia Ivanova
Leader of Physiotherapy department: Artem Ivanov
Email: [email protected]