Children, horses put through paces

Climb aboard . . . Equine Life›Skills Academy holiday programme coach Tiana van Schalkwyk helps Lyla Moore (6) climb on Flame, a 26›year›old quarter horse, while Nervannah McKenzie (14) holds him steady at the Balclutha Riding for the Disabled’s Litchfield Park Riding Arena last week.

Understanding more about horses and becoming more confident around them were just a couple of the many rewards offered at the Equine Life›Skills Academy holiday programme last week.
This was the second time the academy had conducted the five›day programme aimed at helping children learn real›life skills through working with horses.
Thirty young children aged from 5 to 12 gathered at Balclutha Riding for the Disabled’s Litchfield Park Riding Arena for the course that taught them general horse riding skills, built up their confidence around large animals and offered practical life skills and advice on how to make new friends and improve the world around them.
It is part of a charity set up by Anton van Schalkwyk and his daughter Tiana to pursue their passion for horses and helping others.
‘‘Most kids have never been this close to a horse before and here we teach them how to be more confident around large animals and how to grow as a person,’’ Mr van Schalkwyk said.

Horses are fun . . . Having a great day out at the Equine Life›Skills Academy holiday programme held at the arena last week are Balclutha children Lyla Moore (6, front), on Flame, and Lucas Hill (6), on Sugar.

Anton van Schalkwyk is a tutor at the Southern Institute of Technology Telford campus and his daughter is a duty coach with Balclutha Riding for the Disabled.
‘‘This is the second course we have run and it has proven to be very popular with a waiting list of over 200 for the 30 places on it,’’ Mr van Schalkwyk said.
‘‘Children here today have come from as far afield as Invercargill, Balclutha, Dunedin, Milton and Beaumont.
‘‘‘‘They have had a lot of fun as they learnt how to sit properly on a horse, control their balance and have fun out in the arena before taking part in practical exercises and activities based around the arts and personal development,’’ he said.