Eurico Rosa da Silva is a world-famous jockey who doesn’t give beginner riding lessons to people, nor does he dispense tips and tactics to other aspiring professionals. He doesn’t administer equine therapy to people with reduced mobility, nor does he bring his own consulting clients to the stables to work with horses. And all of that is rather unfortunate because, as we discovered last week, the man can communicate with horses as naturally as he speaks to people; he can tell us what these animals are thinking, and just what they’re willing to do to make us happy.
It’s truly remarkable to groom and tack-up horses alongside Eurico Rose da Silva. The man seldom takes his eyes of the horse’s faces and he seems to always be interacting with them on some level. He’s won the Queen’s Plate race twice in his life, and numerous Breeders cups and sovereign stakes and claim-this-and-that; he was regularly featured on Canadian Thoroughbred magazine as he seized the biggest prizes possible in Canada. Today he’s more likely to be featured in the pages of HorseSport magazine as he charts a new course with his mind coaching business.
On Tuesday the 22nd of September we visited Halton Place and our impromptu riding program was not an authentic medically supervised equine-assisted therapy as we didn’t have a proper treatment plan beyond our desire to have just some fun and meet some top-ranked animals. To claim this was horse-therapy would be doing real equine-assisted medical programs a great disservice. Instead, we met and groomed sport horses with Eurico, a world class jockey who has just published a book chronicling his career. The Brazilian-born horseman has redefined himself and has become a life coach who helps athletes and executives build better brains. At age 45, Eurico has now officially retired from horseracing, and he calls his consulting work Mind Coaching and he usually points to his own skull when he says the word.
Eurico Rosa da Silva is best friends with Louise Masek of Look Ahead Sporthorses who provided mounts and tack for our adventure. She’s the resident equestrian at Halton Place which is huge facility with sand rings and round pens outside the barn which contains a large riding arena. Authentic horse therapy happens here, and Louise helps certified instructors use specially trained horses to recondition patients with limited mobility. They march about inside this sand-bottomed arena as they recover feeling and sensation in their arms and legs and some folks believe it’s especially good for massaging lower backs. Others believe that equine therapy is bunkum and offers no benefit whatsoever.
Most major studies done by medical and academic organizations have concluded there’s insufficient scientific evidence to validate equine-assisted therapy as effective treatment for psychiatric or behavioral disorders, or even to reduce pain associated with physical disabilities.
But that position may be changing as just recently a joint pilot project by the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan found that therapy participants all experienced a sense of love and happiness when around horses. We can validate that finding right now. Regardless of the lack of proof, the international organization Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association has certified twenty programs across Canada.
Equine therapy is actual a very old idea. Hippocrates wrote about the benefits of horse therapy in ancient Greece. But let’s be clear that wasn’t our prescription on Tuesday. We went to Halton Place seeking adventure, intellectual stimulation, and a break from the homogeny of being cooped in up our homes.
We’ve read and we believe and can attest to how horseback riding increases problem-solving, leadership, and social skills. In addition to being relaxing, riding horses can also be an excellent workout, and our Tuesday at Halton Place with Eurico will forever be remembered as a great day at the stables.
Photos by Sue Lisset – All Rights Reserved
Guest Author Bio
Rob Campbell is a freelance nature writer and author living in Toronto, Canada. Son of a beekeeper, Rob is keenly interested in using technology to improve conservation and the preservation of our natural world; he funds projects that use gadgets to study and improve the lives of insects (honeybees) and animals around us, especially those unfortunate creatures that are, like so many of us humans, stuck living in the city.
Rob is actively involved in Toronto’s business world and the city’s cultural art scenes.
Website: Dumpdiggers Blog
Follow Rob on: Twitter