Hello my name is Annabel Zemering, I’m 18 years old. I spent 2,5 months in Canada at Hinchinbrook farm. I come from Holland and wanted to learn about the horse boy method and autism. I went to Hinchinbrook farm and learned much more! About horses, about more disabilities than just autism, about saying yes and about myself.
Hinchinbrook farm is an amazing place. It is a farm with 4 horses and 1 miniature horse. It has a Therapeutic Riding program and a Horse Boy Method program.
It has absolutely everything a kid would want to play with. There’s a hay loft where the kids are allowed to play, a trampoline, sledges for in the winter, a pond for in the summer, walky-talkies and of course 5 horses to play and ride with.
In the 2,5 months I was there I’ve never seen a kid unhappy at the farm. They were always laughing and playing around.
With the therapeutic riding program the client comes for about 2 hours and does as much as he or she can do their self. They get their horse from the paddock, groom the horse and get the tack on. Then they walk the horse down to the Riding Ring and walk 1 round around it in both ways. When this is done we help them on the horse and walk around and do some stretching. We mostly do this with a game. The person on the horse has to get a ring from the butt of the horse and put it on the ear. Then after this there are a couple of games the client can play: countdowns, rings from one place to the other, rings on flags, tossing the ball and any more. This way the client doesn’t even realize that it’s learning how to ride, but just does it naturally. So they’re not criticized at all, because we want the clients to build up their confidence.
The client can also go have a trail ride and enjoy the woods or stay inside when the weather is bad. There’s never nothing to do. For every weather situation there is a solution.
With the Horse Boy playdates it’s all about autism families. The whole family comes and plays for the afternoon. Every kid gets a volunteer who shadows the kid and follows the kid around. The kids are practically able to do everything they want as long as it’s safe. The volunteer is supposed to never say no and if something is not allowed to say no in a different way and make it acceptable for the kid.
I really learned at Hinchinbrook farm that there’s always a solution for everything and that you can actually always say yes to the kid and make it safe.
Because I’m from Holland I could stay at the house at the farm. This house is owned by Patricia McGill, who also runs the farm and gives the Therapeutic riding lessons and organizes the Horse Boy playdates. I lived with her for those 2,5 months and was able to spent every day on the farm.
Her hospitality was amazing! She let me live in her house, eat with her and make me feel a 100% welcome!
She learned me a lot. How to take care of horses, how to lunge properly and how to run a barn. She also taught me about the different disabilities the clients had and how to deal with each one.
But besides Patty, I met many more amazing people! They all made me feel so welcome and gave me so much love. The parents all talked to me and learned me how it is to live with a child with a disabilities and how difficult it could be, but also how much stronger it makes them. The kids learned me how to play like a kid, to have patient and how to properly explain every single little thing! A really good thing for my English.
This whole experience gave me so much more confidence! I felt so free in those months.