News • 08 Nov 2019

Working with horses is proving beneficial for David

David, aged 46 from Redcliffe, has been able to use some of his NDIS funding for therapy with horses. David, who lives with Schizophrenia, has found that working with these majestic animals has decreased the voices he hears and enabled him to focus.

David’s expression lifts when he talks about spending time with horses to increase his ability to stay connected and learn how to control his thoughts and actions.

The 46-year-old Redcliffe resident has Schizophrenia, and now with the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), he has funding for therapy, which is designed to facilitate meaningful interactions with these majestic animals and increase his ability to be present, to stay connected and learn to control his thoughts and actions.

This type of therapy also provides strategies to modify behaviour to help participants focus more on overcoming emotions like anxiety, aggression and/or a lack of empathy, and the impact it is having on David’s mental health and his general health and wellbeing is truly remarkable.

“I feel so much more alert and focused after each session,” he said. “I find when I’m working with the horses and my mind is busy, the voices in my head stop.”

Spending an hour a fortnight, at Caboolture’s Konect Equine Wisdom & Wellness facility, a registered NDIS provider, David said he can’t believe the difference it is making to his life.

“I’m so much happier and I really enjoy working with all the different horses,” he said. “I’m learning new skills and putting them into practice.

“Last week I worked with a new horse, Bobby. He’s an Arab. I learnt how to walk him sideways and pirouette him (turn him in circles). I felt really proud I was able to connect with him and work with him to do that,” he said.

Open Minds caseworker, Tricia Brown, said she, along with other staff, have noticed David is much more focused after he attends therapy.

“We’ve noticed the more he attends, the longer, after each session, it takes for the voices to return,” she said.

“In David’s next few sessions, he will continue to do all the ground work with the horses and hopefully in the coming months he’ll be riding them.”

David said his long-term NDIS goal is to continue with work with horses and to get back in the saddle, an activity he enjoyed in his younger years.

“It’s just been such an incredible experience. I’m really looking forward to being able to ride again,” he said.

Tricia, also excited about David progress, said there’s also other benefits for David with this therapy too.

“Working with these horses and riding them regularly means he is out and about and active in the community.

“Apart from improving his mental health, he’s also able to work on improving his physical and core strength.

“It’s just incredible how when he has an external physical focus, the voices in David’s head seem to subside,” she said.

The NDIS has provided support to more than 52,000 people across Queensland. There are more than 300,000 people who have benefited from the NDIS nationally, including close to 100,000 people who are now receiving support for the first time.

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