Argentina : Riding Therapy Expert!

Published on: May 4, 2015

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Photo Credits © Poloconsult

Poloconsult met with CEDICA (Centro de Equitación para personas con DIscapacidad y CArenciadas) center boss, Alejandro Zengotita, the founder and director presented the center and its activities.

TACAs (Terápias y Actividades Asistidas con Caballos) are better known as “Riding Therapy” but we will follow the Alejandro’s idea who told us that the real sens of his work is
mostly a therapy and activities asisted by a profesional with the pupil using the horse as intermediary.

CEDICA center was founded in 1994 by Alejandro Zengotita. It is composed by 3 sites : – the hippodrome of La Plata, – the Campo Arroyo San Juan, and – the Police Center of La Plata, helped by various organisms like the “Loterí de la Provincia”.

This non-profit activity privileges mainly the entry of children. Using the horse as therapeutic intermediary between profesional and pupil, CEDICA promotes primarily “family reintegration, success at school, work integration and a better quality of life for all the pupils.”

Proudly considered as an NGO, the center is experiencing a business without interruption since 21 years. It has today approximately 150 pupils with various problems or handicaps as physicals and psychologicals handicaps, communication or integration into society problems. We can find persons with mental retardation, psychomotor problems, or only weak and fragible persons who want a better quality of life.

The CEDICA center has the distinction to present profesionals with great horses experience; indispensable in a thérapy where the horse is the centerpiece of the de communication; but were also formed to have necessary knowledges about the psychological dimension in the therapy. Alejandro emphasized on the aspect.

To better succeed in the mission, an organisation precise and stricte is set up. Each pupil has a regular and detailed follow up, kept by the profesionals. It is transmitted every 6 months to the parents, the school in which the pupil is eventually enrolled (may vary depending on the case) and also can be transmitted to the doctors.
A provisional planning of 3 months is established allowing the team to observe and better know the pupil. This evaluation is generally done in a game situation and outdoors (it depends on the physicals and psychologicals capacities of the pupil, on the age…). Following this period, objectives will be set taking into account the parental advices and also the pupil’s potential activities during the week.

Among the active members of the center, there is a definite hierarchy. The director choses the coordinators, in charge of assembling teams of 3 persons : – the profesional who leads the therapy, main actor of the therapy, is usually located to the left of the horse. – a walking assistant who has to lead the horse. – and finally a volunteer located to the other side of the horse present to help the profesional.

All the horses of the center have a detailed record of their specifications. It is very useful in the case of a new volunteer. For example, if he has to saddle the horse, he will be able to know the character of the horse.

Alejandro presented us the CEDICA’s saddles; with multiple hooks, coves, compensators… the saddles are adjustable to perfectly match the pupil needs. For example, it is posible to add a cushion on a saddle side to offset a pelvis malformation. The TACAs are based on a model of the march that will be the first base to work precisely.
The horse morphology is also an important criterion; for example if a pupil is bent forward, the therapist will chose a horse with an energic, short and mighty step in order to firm up muscles.

The TACAs have obvious benfits but they are not noticeable in the short term. According the individual capacities, difficulties or problems, this therapy requires time. Thanks to the horse, a communication between the pupil and the profesional can exist more easily. Moreover, the therapy is often a game situation that stimulates the pupil to participate. When a person is riding, the horse’ step has the same functions as a human walking; that’s why it is a complete therapy welcoming persons regardless problems. The horse is an animal with so much patience that it will help the pupil to be confident, comfortable. This therapy offers muscles developments, articulation mobilizations, increase of the stamina. It permits also to improve the pupil’s balance, and to precise and coordinate the movments. Soliciting various senses in game situation, the pupil evolution will never be in tension or precipitation.
The horse riding has also very positive benefits on the children or adults who don’t have psychological or physical problems. The horse is a companion with patience, giving much love, collaborating and who doesn’t judge.

The Poloconsult team warmly thanks Alejandro Zengotita for its wonderful welcome, its kindness and the time he took to give us all those informations.

To know more about the CEDICA center or the TACAs (Riding Therapy), don’t hesitate to contact us.

Gaétane HURSTEL.

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