Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Measuring the benefits of contact with horses

Siobhan English

Siobhan English

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.

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She will be focusing her research on horse riding and swimming.

She will be helping the children and adults each week and keeping an up-to-date report on each individual participating in her project.

She will be recording her data and research through surveys, questionnaires and observations. If you are interested in contributing to the project with information, suggestions, past research, ideas or recommendations please email

Along with her sister Annie, the Meath-based teenagers gained global interest earlier this year for their innovative idea to help horse owners with picky eaters by devising supplements using fenugreek herbs and spices.

A winning project at last year's BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and one of the top 30 companies in this area, FenuHealth is now distributing the supplements throughout Europe and the Middle East while also developing new markets in Hong Kong and New Zealand.

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