Equestrian therapy center to open
By Yun Suh-young
The first center offering emotional disorder therapy through horseback riding will open in Incheon next week.
The Korea Racing Authority (KRA) said Thursday that the KRA Horseback Riding Healing Center will open Monday in the city on the northwest coast.
It will provide professional counseling as well as programs for emotional healing through horseback riding to adolescents who suffer emotional and behavioral disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“We have conducted rehabilitation programs through horseback riding for people with physical disabilities and 1,000 people have been helped since we started the program five years ago. We now plan to expand the program to cure people with emotional disorders,” said Choi Yong-ho, an official from the KRA.
“In other countries, there are already successful cases of curing emotional disorders through horseback riding. Such programs are actually quite common. In Korea, however, this is the first time the program is being adopted.”
A second center will open in Siheung, Gyeonggi Province, next month. If the results are successful, the KRA plans to invest 100 billion won to establish 30 centers nationwide by 2022.
The main targets of the program are children and adolescents. Those who have ADHD as well as Internet-addicted teenagers are the main targets as well as school bullies, teenage delinquents and runaways.
“In the past, we ran a program to cure Internet-addicted adolescents and it was very effective. Even foreign professionals who visited said it was the first time they’ve seen Internet addiction cured by horseback riding. The most common programs are for drug or alcohol addiction,” said Choi.
“Just because you’re sitting on the saddle doesn’t mean you’re riding. You need to connect with the horses emotionally in order to lead them. Great concentration is also needed not to fall off the horse.”
Apart from riding, the program also provides other activities with the horses such as feeding, washing and brushing them and putting riding equipment on them.
The program is equally divided into counseling and horseback riding.
“The healing program is offered in a package. Usually the horseback riding comes after counseling. Only when we know what problems a child has, can we really provide customized programs,” said the official.
The fee for the program is 30,000 won but children from low-income households can take part free of charge. For more information, visit http://www.kra.co.kr.