Youth with disabilities and youth organisations inspired by horse therapy

yeat association for you horse assisted therapy youth with dissabilities bulgaria

A training exchange (Learning Exchange) was held from 23 to 28 of May in the village of “Chavdar”. The aim was to provide participants with time and space to discuss established and new practices of horse-assisted therapy. The exchange was realized by the YEAT Project of PKB Association, with Luck 33 from France and Brussels outdoor school (BOS). Association FOR YOU is a partner of the initiative. It involved professionals, youth workers and young people with disabilities. Within five days, everyone was able to get to know each other, exchange thoughts, emotions and experiences and put it into practice.

The first location of the exchange was one of the best residential villages in Bulgaria – the village of Chavdar, located 75 km. from Sofia. During the learning exchange a culture day was held in the local school. It was about 24 of May – Day of Slavonic Alphabet, Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture. 

The second location was a ranch where the activities of Paint and Quarter Horse Foundation are run. The ranch is about a 30 minutes car drive from Chavdar. There you can find 8 horses… and 4 dogs. The horses are bred as close to their natural environment as possible.  They have access to a big pasture and a river. The animals aren’t shodded and are taught via soft methods. For two days, all participants in the exchange touched the “magic” of horses. For the first time the youngest  approached and rode. They were supported by experienced instructors and therapists from Bulgaria, France and Belgium. For everyone, the visit was an emotional, inspiring and unforgettable experience.

“Certainly this meeting inspired many new ideas and opportunities for all participants. But for me personally, as soon as I returned to Varna, I suggested to my colleagues to implement a project at the local level for children and youth at a disadvantage to experience the magic of horses and nature in the summer,” said the chairman of Association FOR YOU Antonina Atanasova.

Each of the partners participates with a group of five people who have experience or interest in the topics – therapeutic work with horses, work with disadvantaged children and youth, youth work and volunteering. All 21 participants focused their work on encouraging young people to engage in activities related to horse-assisted therapy.

In the group of the Association FOR YOU were three young people with intellectual disabilities, along with their companions and two youth workers. The hippotherapist from Varna – Irena Metodieva also took part. The young people were extremely excited, as they traveled by train for the first time, boarded the metro, touched and rode a horse, and some even met foreigners for the first time.

The results and the effect of the therapy will be summarized in a special manual prepared by the participants.