Since exiting the first lockdown, I have witnessed the number of children that have developed anxiety. These are children that never suffered from it before. After many conversations with parents that bring the children to our riding school, they expressed that their child could not wait for the stables to re-open so they could go and see their favourite pony. Several children were very worried about getting out of the car on their return to the stables, having been used to staying indoors with their parents/guardians only. It was then that it hit me, on how seriously devastating this pandemic has taken effect on some children. Their confidence has suffered. This is where the ponies come in. As soon as their favourite pony appears, the child would smile and get out of the car to say hello. Gradually the confidence comes back.
At Santolina Stables we encourage and cater for children (mainly), offering anything from ‘cuddle a pony’ to riding lessons. We welcome anyone and everyone to have some sort of equine experience for the first time. Some parents are happy to take a pony for a walk with their child on foot or simply watch the horses in the fields grazing. Being an outdoor activity with plenty of room for social distance, with hand sanitiser at the ready. People generally feel safe and this then reflects back to children who then start to feel safe.
I feel riding establishments have become a Safe Haven throughout this pandemic. As long as proprietors abide by regulations and seek advice through the ABRS+ then maybe this would help our businesses survive. I feel that children are the answer to keeping our businesses afloat and by doing this we are helping them with their anxieties, confidence, fitness and above all fun. I have always said that horses are more versatile than a potato. They are natural therapists.
Written by Debbie Maclean, Proprietor of Santolina Stables LTD