JAN Pavlinovich has seen true magic on her West Swan property from non-verbal children calling their horse’s name to brilliant smiles as they swap wheelchairs for saddles.
The Riding for the Disabled Swan Valley vice-president was named in the Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List today which recognises a range of contributions and service across all fields.
Mrs Pavlinovich, who has served as Riding for the Disabled WA president, vice president and secretary, has been awarded a medal (OAM) in the general division for her service to people with a disability.
The not-for-profit charity organisation delivers a variety of horse related programs to people with disabilities, special needs and mental health issues.
“For a child who is used to being on a walking frame or sitting in a wheelchair, it’s something very new to be up on this magic horse looking down on people and knowing that they just have to say ‘walk on’ and they can take that horse from A to B,” she said.
“They’ve got some control and that’s beautiful too.”
But she said it was so much more than a pony ride for the participants who are put through all sorts of positions during the sessions.
“RDA is a very intense therapy and no one can do it without a really special team of volunteers, and I believe that I have the best around me,” Mrs Pavlinovich said.
“The children are enjoying themselves so much that they don’t even realise they are having therapy.
“We really are a very happy and cohesive group and I would like to share this honour with them because it’s not just mine it’s ours. It’s a special place to be and it really gets into your heart.”
The Edward Street centre, operating from Mrs Pavlinovich’s historical property St Leonard’s, offers hippotherapy, dressage and vaulting and could introduce walking with horses for children who have “fallen through the cracks”.
“Not riding, it’s just being with the horses, leading the horse, looking after it, brushing it, picking up its poo for special kids that don’t have a medical certificate always but they are hurting,” she said.
“And just a little bit of this, we know the difference it makes.”
She said it was wonderful watching the children progress.
“When a child comes here it’s not unusual for them not to be able to sit up and we just lay them across a sheep skin and then gradually they sit up, we work on that,” she said.
“There’s some children with autism that know it’s Wednesday if they’re riding, everything is inside their head and I think what we try to do is open up and let a little bit of light in.
“We get the kids when they’re relaxed and happy and they’re feeling good and they’ll do anything to stay on that horse.”