Horse trail branches out to help the disabled

OWNER of Three Sisters Horse Trails, Jann Webb, has realised a long-time dream by starting Healing Horses Therapeutic Riding Centre at her stable near Kleinemonde.

STABLES NEAR THE SEA: Riding instructor, Sheena Ferguson, volunteer, student and horse owner, Beth du Toit, Healing Horses ambassador and Paralympic reservist, Tamsin Mbatsha Bouwer and director of Healing Horses and owner of Three Sisters Horse Trails, Jann Webb Picture: LOUISE KNOWLES


She invited members of the press to a demonstration of healing horses with Tamsin Mbatcha Bouwer riding and Sheena Ferguson instructing on Tuesday afternoon on April 24.

Tamsin, 19, is now an accomplished rider who was not only a reserve on the South African dressage team in the 2016 Paralympics, but started showjumping early in her career and also competed in show jumping competitions, and is an example of what disabled riders can achieve.

However when she was a baby and her foster mother, Glenda Bouwer, took her from the hospital where she had been abandoned – the doctors told her that Tammy would never walk because she had cerebral palsy.

Glenda however owned a farm in Pretoria and taught her daughter how to ride horses, and simultaneously Tammy also learned to walk.

“Horse riding gave me an ability, it’s very therapeutic, and I started show jumping, which is very unusual for someone with a disability – you have to compensate for the movement of the horse and you develop muscles in that way,” said Tamsin, who fell many times in the process of learning how to jump, especially.

“Horse riding simulates walking, and gives the rider the opportunity to develop the muscles required for walking as they are compensating for the movement of the horse. It also stretches the adductor muscles and the horse warms up the muscles. The psychological benefits of controlling a large animal also give the child confidence,” said riding instructor, Sheena Ferguson.

Glenda and Tamsin who moved to a farm in Salem recently moved to Port Alfred where Tamsin started going on weekly trails and volunteered to help Webb when she started Healing Horses.

Ferguson who is a qualified instructor with the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) in Australia, is passing on her skills to Webb who is doing the RDA exams in May.

There are similar schools for riders with disabilities in Cape Town and Johannesburg, which are backed by the RDA, as well as smaller schools.

Webb is also assisted by student Beth du Toit who is another volunteer at Healing Horses.

“I grew up with lots of foster brothers and sisters and so I am interested in how horses can help with psychological disorders,” du Toit said.

Webb’s daughter, Jess Payne, and her friend Di Tremeer are also helping her by continuing to run the Three Sisters Horse Trails and looking after the horses.

“We rely on the skills of the whole team who are all enthusiastic and ready to welcome our first disabled riders on 1 June,” said Webb who will  be giving lessons on Monday afternoons and recently held a gymkhana to raise funds for Healing Horses.

“Healing Horses will be sponsoring two disabled children for riding lessons for three months from the June 1,” said Webb.

Parents and professionals who work with disabled children can contact Webb for an assessment to see whether the school can help their child.

They can assist children with most disabilities, including cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Down Syndrome, autism and attention deficit disorder, but do not have a crane for lifting heavy children out of wheelchairs.

Healing Horses is situated at 3 Sisters Horse Trails, 14km from Port Alfred on the R72 towards East London.

Those who would like to help walking the horses and assisting the instructor, sponsoring a horse, or sponsoring a rider, can contact Webb on cell phone number 082-645-6345 or email

OUTDOOR THERAPY: Horse rider, Tamsin Mbatsha Bouwer and disabled riding instructor, Sheena Ferguson, performed in a demonstration at the Healing Horses Therapeutic Riding Centre on Tuesday, April 24 Picture: Leroy Payne, JELLY PHOTOGRAPHY


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