The ‘horsey’ smells and sounds of the stables unlocked fond memories for equestrian-enthusiasts and Belong Wigan care village residents, John Green (86) and Bob Smith (69), thanks to a special day out organised by Marie Calderbank, who works as an Experience Coordinator at the community care village on Millers Lane.
John and Bob, both wheelchair users who live with dementia, each enjoyed a morning of horse carriage driving at the Thompson House Equestrian Centre, in Standish, which provides inclusive, one-to-one lessons for people with special educational needs and disabilities of all ages (SEND). Taking charge of the reins themselves, both Belong residents led their horses in a canter then gallop around the stables; displaying a clear knack for the sport.
John’s wife accompanied him on the visit and commented: “John used to work on his brother’s farm in Ireland, and always spoke about how much he enjoyed riding and taking care of the horses there. It was amazing to watch his face light up as soon as we entered the stables; it clearly meant a great deal to be back in a similar environment once again.”
Sensory-based activities, providing gentle stimulation through sound and smell, have been shown to help improve focus, communication and memory for people living with dementia.
“At Belong, we’re all about a very personal style of care, tailored to each person’s specific set of interests, needs and past experiences,” Marie explained. “Bob also has a similar lifelong passion for horses, after working as a ‘bookie’ for several years, and later taking up horse-riding as a hobby.”
Marie added: “The activity seemed a perfect fit for John and Bob, and they both clearly loved the experience. We’re already looking into booking more sessions at the centre in the next few weeks.”