Claire Liddiard became a registered volunteer at HorsePower Hills, as soon as she could at the age of 12. “But I was a guinea pig for at least 6 years before that,” laughs Claire, now aged 16. A guinea pig at a horse-riding centre?
“Mum would go to work in hippotherapy and I became her ‘co-facilitator’. It was more fun than staying home and I got to talk to the kids doing hippotherapy. Mum would use me as a role model. And when Mum wanted to show other volunteers something in a training session, I was the guinea pig to demonstrate.”
Her mum, Jane, is an Occupational Therapist and horse enthusiast. Jane has been a volunteer for over 30 years, starting when she was 13 years old at Claremont Therapeutic Riding Centre.
“I went to Uni and did Sports Science and became a Riding for the Disabled (RDA) coach at Carine and Capricorn. Then I did a hippotherapy workshop with Nicky Bushell and that was it. I got degrees in Occupational Therapy and I’ve been using hippotherapy for 15 years.”
Jane provides hippotherapy sessions for clients at HorsePower Hills through her business Take the Reins – Occupational Therapy, where she is also a volunteer committee member. Jane is a volunteer for HorsePower Australia, providing hippotherapy training manuals and workshops.
“I’ve taken Claire along to hippotherapy since she was 6 months old. We went to a conference in Ireland and several times to workshops in the Eastern states. It’s nice to have shared time with Claire through hippotherapy…. I’m living my dream job,” said Jane.
And what about Claire, what has she learned being her mother’s co-facilitator?
“You put horses first. They can’t help themselves and we have to do things for them. I also like going to the fundraising stalls and selling raffle tickets. I’ve been to a saddle-fitting workshop. I’ve met Paralympians. I’ve learned to deal with others, to be a hard worker and follow instructions. Now, I have a job at a café, too.”