We have been extremely busy in the Riding team through the pandemic running riding sessions for the pupils who were still attending school and since the February half term we have seen all pupils return to school. We are now running a very full timetable, with 32 pupils accessing riding at this time. We have four new pupils waiting for a slot to become available before they can start. As the saying goes, many hands make light work and that is certainly true for us. Michele, Karen and the Hippotherapists have worked as a small team since July last year and have been thrilled to welcome a small number of our volunteers back to assist in the smooth running of the sessions this half term. Our Covid infection control measures still remain in place with full PPE being worn during the riding sessions, and changed between each rider, and rapid Covid tests being taken by the volunteers and staff. We have had a few new pieces of equipment bought including some easy to clean hoops so we have been able get the pupils reaching for these, putting them over poles and matching the colours to add some variety to our sessions again.
We have found recently that we have had to change the position some of our pupils ride in, from sitting upright astride the pony to laying on the pony. This happens for a number of reasons but most commonly this means that the pupil has grown and as a result of this their weight distribution changes, often alongside the development or acceleration of spinal curves. As a team we have agreed that we can continue to ride these pupils if they are lying as it puts less pressure through their spine and will reduce the uneven load for the pony. They can still enjoy being outdoors with the pony, they can use their voice or other ways of asking the horse to move, and they need to use their core muscles to make adjustments to balance as the pony moves around corners and obstacles. This has allowed some of our pupils to continue to enjoy the benefits the movement of the horse provides, for that little bit longer, and we get to see their smiley faces for a bit longer too!