Horse therapy benefits children with autism

Hippotherapy, treatment with the help of a horse, is the latest activity being offered to Almancil pupils with special needs, thanks to support from the Almancil International Rotary Club (AIRC) and the local Pinetrees riding school.

The Rotary Club has had a long association with Escola EB 2/3 Dr António de Sousa Agostinho in Almancil. Amongst the projects already supported by the Club has been paddle boarding for some of the pupils with special needs and, in particular, children with autism. As well as being enjoyed by the children, it has helped to improve their coordination and communication skills.

Of course, it isn’t practical to continue paddle boarding in the cold winter months, so it was decided to trial the new sport of padel tennis. The children enjoyed it so much that they had their first proper lesson recently.

It is hoped that with sponsorship from AIRC and the Algarve Tennis and Fitness Club in Quinta do Lago, the children will be able to further improve their communication and motor skills.

But recently the Club has added hippotherapy for three autistic children to enjoy. Children with autism benefit from equine therapy due to the motor, emotional, and sensory sensations that come with riding a horse.

Beverley Gibbons from Pinetrees riding school in Almancil has experience with autistic children and was delighted to welcome the new group to the classes.

“We are delighted to be associated with this school in Almancil,” said AIRC President Claire Busbridge, “and adding hippotherapy to their programme has been an absolute joy for us”.

To learn more about the AIRC or to become a member, visit

Photo: Beverley Gibbons, Uschi Kuhn (AIRC) and one of the autistic children