Hoofbeats Sanctuary is an initiative of Kanyini Connections Ltd, founded in 2009.
Throughout the years, the foundation has looked for the most vulnerable members in out community – those who were falling through the gaps of our existing health and welfare systems.
Initially, we supported children with degenerative conditions whose disabilities didn’t qualify for the funding of equipment that would enable them to live the remainder of their lives comfortably and with dignity. And as the NDIS became a reality, we then redirected our focus elsewhere.
Realising children entering Domestic and Family Violence refuges weren’t eligible for the same support services as women, we then worked to fund children who were up until then unsupported.
With the fantastic work of Rosie Batty and the spotlight, she shone on the Domestic Violence sector, funding increased, and refuge services improved for both women and children in their care.
As a result, we shifted our focus to children impacted by trauma. Research shows that those raised in violent environments are more likely to commit violence, struggle with school, depression and other concerning behaviours that can impact their success in life.
On speaking to refuge staff and mothers, we learned that traditional forms of therapy were often ineffective. Many children found clinical settings confronting and were reluctant to participate in the standard therapeutic process.
Our preliminary research then turned our attention to implementing effective intervention programs for those impacted by trauma.
A 2016 review examined journal articles, program evaluations and exploration studies where all participants had experienced trauma as a child. The review found positive aspects when working with horses and concluded that children and adolescents gained valuable skills from this type of activity. With those skills, children and adolescents can overcome the effects of early trauma and stress-related illness.
Supporting people of all ages impacted by trauma via equine-assisted learning programs then became our focus.
We trialed private, small and large group children’s programs run by qualified instructors – mental health, Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT) and Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) practitioners – and those without a qualification/s but had experience with horses and mentoring.
We found that every program resulted in significant shifts in how the children felt about themselves and their place in the world.
We also found:
We realised that we could develop a program that could deliver all the benefits and remove all the issues by:
In order to deliver our own programs we needed a suitable facility to operate from. Since 2019, we’ve been leasing an equestrian centre from the Sunshine Coast Council who’ve been incredibly supportive of our plans.