The Kazakh Equestrian Federation Cup is an officially sanctioned sporting event for both amateur and professional Paralympic and Special Olympics athletes in the country. Participants are ranked nationally based on their scores. This year, Sultan Zhasybaj, Business Development Manager at AsstrA Almaty and qualified hippotherapist, helped athletes participate in the 6th edition of the Cup along with teams from all around the country.
"I have loved horses since I was a child. I began participating in the Cup program in 2018 after completing comprehensive training courses in hippotherapy, i.e. therapeutic horse riding for people with physical disabilities like paralysis or cerebral palsy as well as mental ones like autism or Down syndrome," says Sultan Zhasybay.
According to Sultan, riders starting hippotherapy must first overcome their fear of mounting the horse. This challenge can be significant depending on the rider’s condition. A new rider “wakes up” his or her central nervous system with a team of at least three instructors: a horseman, a hippotherapist, and an assistant.
"Over time, a rider learns how to maintain balance. After that comes the most wonderful stage: mastering horse control. After much hard training, the rider can try para-equestrian dressage,” continues Sultan Zhasybay.
Hippotherapy and para-equestrian are relatively new in Kazakhstan compared to European countries. Sultan's team is taking its first steps to advance hippotherapy in the region as a way to rehabilitate and socially integrate people with disabilities.
"There is still a lot of work ahead. One of our ambitious plans is to build a hippotherapy rehabilitation center. We want to provide hippotherapy sessions and trainings year round. We will do our best to provide children with other types of rehabilitation and psychological support as well. We plan to launch acting classes so that the children can form a social circle and make friends. Last but not least, the center will give the children a safe place to spread their wings without vigilant oversight from their parents, who can have some well-deserved free time. Our dream is to go to the Paris Paralympics in 2024," sums up Sultan Zhasybay.
Author: Anastasiya Sidelnikova.