Therapeutic horseback riding for Slovene children
With Norwegian support, Rakitna Youth Centre in Slovenia is expanding its treatment programme to help children with eating disorders.
Rakitna Youth Centre in Preserje in western Slovenia has over 80 years of experience in treating young people with respiratory problems. Now, the centre has been awarded a €380,000 grant from Norway to expand its activities to equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) - using horses as a therapeutic tool to promote emotional growth in children and teenagers with eating disorders or other mental health problems.
According to project psychologist Katarina Mavec, EAP can be a highly successful form of treatment for children suffering from mental health issues. "We see that children treated with EAP are more active participants in their own treatment. The horses also calm down the children, helping them to concentrate and focus," said Mavec. The new therapeutic activities include both preventative treatment and longer term rehabilitation and reintegration programmes.
Through the therapy, children at Rakitna Youth Centre learn about themselves and others through structured activities with the horses. Children can mirror some of what they experience with the horses to other people and issues in their lives. The riding also has a positive impact on the children's self image. "The therapeutic riding helps the children grow a strong sense of achievement, independence and self respect," Mavec commented.
The project is also aiming to raise awareness about emotional problems in children and youth. "We still have a long way to go before people fully understand the importance of mental health problems in children," Mavec concluded.
Equine-assisted psychotherapy at Rakitna
Health and childcare
Type & project assistance:
Mladinsko Klimatsko Zdravilisce Rakitna
Type of institution:
Public owned enterprise
Grant agreement date:
26 June 2008
The purpose of the Project is to offer equine-assisted psychotherapy to children and teenagers suffering from psychological and eating disorders, with the overall objective of decreasing the incidence rate of these disorders while supporting the rehabilitation and reintegration of affected children and teenagers into society. Reference is made to the application dated 27 November 2007 and to any subsequent correspondence with the Focal Point.
The completed Project shall include the following activities and results:
- programme of psychotherapeutic riding with a professional team and trained horses initiated and implemented;
- therapeutic programme presented to a wider public (information and promotional materials);
- equipment for therapeutic horseback riding purchased;
- networking with similar institutions outside Slovenia developed.
The Project Promoter is the Mladinsko Klimatsko Zdravilišce Rakitna (Rakitna Youth Sanatorium).
The Focal Point shall ensure that the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Slovenia shall provide at least 15.29 percent of the estimated eligible Project cost.