Following the suspension of horse riding hippotherapy sessions during lockdown, last week the hippotherapy team at Chailey Heritage Foundation got the green light to reintroduce this invaluable service, giving the children and young people at Chailey a welcome return to one of their most-loved activities and therapies.
It hasn’t been without its challenges, as Melissa who helps to run the sessions explained. “It's been a big team effort to be able to restart Hippotherapy sessions in the COVID-19 era. We’ve conducted a thorough risk assessment and put new practices in place to mitigate any risk of transmission during our therapy sessions.” This has included the riding team wearing PPE, using extra coverings on the horses, minimising the number of people who help the riders and allowing extra time between sessions for cleaning and changing of PPE.
The horses have acclimatised well to their new working conditions, demonstrating their calm, confident temperaments in adjusting to being handled by the team wearing flappy aprons and strange face masks. Nicki, one of our hippotherapists, said, “We have an amazing team and ran four brilliant sessions today. I’m so proud of how we have achieved this. It’s hot and sweaty in all that PPE, but worth every second when you get smiles from the children and young people like the ones we had today!”
The hippotherapy team had to do a lot of preparatory work to follow the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy guidelines, but the preparation means that the sessions are now as safe as possible for pupils – and running smoothly with lots of very happy faces. The team are thrilled they’ve been able to restart sessions for some riders and hope to be able to have thirteen riders back riding by the end of term. Sarah Otway, Deputy Headteacher said “It has been a huge task, but well done to the team for going the extra marathon to get hippotherapy sessions running again”.