Measuring the benefits of contact with horses
Kate Madden, co-founder of equine FenuHealth, is currently working on a project for 2016 and is looking for readers' assistance with her research.
She is studying the 'effects of sport and exercise on people with special needs' and hopes to hear from members of the public who are specifically involved in equine related therapy.
Children with special needs, in particular, seem to benefit enormously from this form of exercise.
Horse riding helps develop co-ordination and the organisation of movement. It also aids balance and muscle tone.
Contact with the horse has a calming effect, and the child can engage in a relationship with a real living creature.
Many special needs children have a notable ability to connect with horses.
Throughout Ireland there are dozens of specialised equestrian centres catering for both adults and children with special needs, with Festina Lente in Bray one of the most widely recognised.
As part of her transition year programme in Loreto College, St Stephen's Green, Dublin, Kate is helping children and adults with all different types of special needs - psychological, physical and emotional.