Horses bring a smile to special needs kids

Dubai:Students of Rashid Centre for the Disabled interacted with race horses during their tour around the Grandstand Stables at the Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.
The students were given the opportunity to pet and play with horses at Grandstand Stables. Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe met the students at the stables and encouraged such activities, which foster human interaction with animals. Al Raihe said the goal is to help these kids build a connection with the horses.
“All children love horses, they might have been timid or scared at first, but as soon as they got comfortable around them you could notice a special bond. They weren’t afraid anymore of these big animals,” he explained.
Al Raihe added that he encourages such excursions from schools in order for children to learn about animals and understand horses better. He said that horses are sometimes perceived as dangerous when in reality they are loyal animals.
Tadhg O’Shae, an Irish jockey for Grandstand Stables, said: “The kids were a little bit nervous because most have only seen horses on television, but they build up more confidence towards the end.” “Even the horses were timid at first because of the big crowds but they warmed up quickly.”
The jockey added that there was a special bond between humans and animals, especially horses, since it’s built on trust. O’Shae said riders put their lives in the hands of horses every time they get on and that horse-riding was therapeutic.
“In the morning you might not be in a good mood but when you ride the horse and you feel the rhythm of the trotting ... it’s the calming rhythm that relaxes people.”
Huzaifa Mowafaq, an 18-year-old Syrian student from Rashid Centre, said he had the most pleasant experience during his visit to the Meydan stables.
“I saw the horses, I ... played with them, which made me so happy,” said Mowafaq. “I was scared at first but I discovered how friendly they are when I started to pet them.”
Rashid Centre was keen on providing its students with such an experience, in order to teach them to step out of their comfort zones. The experience allows them to socialise with other people and have personal interactions with animals and nature.