Listed as a proven successful therapy in the treatment of ailments as diverse as anxiety, depression, ADHD cerebral palsy and more, Horseback riding has become the recovery remedy for many Namibians. One horse stable, nestled next to the Swakopmund River just outside the coastal town, along with its passionate owners, staff and patrons, is providing a place of liberation for both the able and disabled, where a connection to animals and nature is proving a healing tonic.
Okakambe Trails, situated just outside of Swakopmund, has for many years been offering horseback riding lessons and out rides. Some of their loyal supporters come for the animals; others for the scenery; others come with various disabilities to work towards emancipation from their disorders.
Passionate and driven, Kathrin Schaefer Stiege has been running Okakambe Trails for the last 25 years. Assisting her is Noah Kairua, clearly an inspired mentor as wherever he walks, hoards of children walk alongside him.
Noah was born in Okahandja and started riding horses at a very young age, “I started riding when I was five, and I’m thirty seven now. I was born on a farm; horses were the main transport in our family. I grew up with horses.”
“Horse riding is a valuable sport for people with any kind of disabilities. Horses are just such great therapists, they do so much good both physically and mentally.”
On a visit to Okakambe Trails for their annual fund-raising event, while children demonstrate their horseback riding prowess and members of the horse stables brag about the incredible work done here in the rehabilitation of both animals and children, Kathrin and Noah share their insights on the value of horseback riding, as recreation, rehabilitation and as exercise.
“When we bring a disabled child to the horse they are the same, they don’t act strange with these kids. They connect with the child and this helps the child to develop a better understanding and confidence.”
Kathrin explains, “Horse riding is a valuable sport for people with any kind of disabilities. Horses are just such great therapists, they do so much good both physically and mentally, and horse riding is good therapy. We’ve had great results from difficult children and children with ADHD. Some children had spasms and couldn’t walk, they can walk now, and they actually ride the horses themselves. We had another two boys with learning disabilities that now even do Dressage (defined as the highest expression of horse training) performances.”
“For example, when we bring a disabled child to the horse they are the same, they don’t act strange with these kids. They connect with the child and this helps the child to develop a better understanding and confidence.” Says Noah, standing next to a very young horse that has just performed diligently in front of a large clapping audience of people, something that demonstrates his masterful skill.
“To be able to ride a horse, there is first an exchange, a connection, the energy you pass through to the horse. If you can’t pass the energy to the horse then you can’t connect with the horse.”
Patrons to Okakambe Trails explain that there have been many examples of children thriving through a horse riding practice. According to Noah, “It is so important that we show our kids how to love animals.”
Explaining how horse riding can become therapy for anyone, Noah says, “To be able to ride a horse, there is first an exchange, a connection, the energy you pass through to the horse. If you can’t pass the energy to the horse then you can’t connect with the horse.”
Kathrin adds, “A horse is a special animal. Horse riding is very beneficial for the growing up of a young person, because you learn responsibility; you learn discipline; you learn you are not alone; you have a team partner that you have to take care of.”
Developing and enhancing posture, core muscles, and overall balance while providing attention to fine motor skills, are some of the other benefits of horseback riding, as Noah explains, “Horse riding is not only for fun, it’s also a good exercise for your body.” Says Noah.
Okakambe Trails offer all things Equestrian, from Horse Riding lessons to hosting tourist out-rides to the Desert. To find out more, book a lesson or an out-ride, get in touch with the team by emailing email@example.com or calling 0811246626. All are welcome from beginners to experienced riders.
Find Okakambe Trails via their website by clicking here