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“With horses, we forget the disease”

Their names are Mélanie, Cloé. They are in their twenties and have watched their young lives turned upside down by natural disasters, cancer. Both of them were among the participants who took part in a training equipment session at the Montbrisonnais Equestrian Sports and Leisure club. Equine mediation support program funded by the League Against Cancer.

Usually there are six of them, but this Monday morning, at the Montbrisonnais Equestrian Sports and Recreation club, only four people came to get in the saddle. Lastly, they don’t necessarily all ride horses. “The goal is not to train them to be riders but to build a relationship, a well-being with the horse, to reconnect with the body in another way” explains Gaëlle Champmartin.

The four young girls greeted by the relational equipment practitioners were all patients treated by the University Hospital or HPL. That morning, they attended the second session of a support program funded by the League Against Cancer. “Mélanie, you took Impec today. Do you want to look for it in the meadow? »

“It allows me to think about things other than the disease”

The young woman took the reins and guided the horse into the arena. In the background, a little soft music is heard. “We create our own little cocoon,” says Gaëlle Champmartin, who suggests starting the session slowly with little brushing. “You will see, Impec will speak to you in a certain language” he warned.

The mare had expressed, for some time, a desire to have her rump stroked. Mélanie complied, laughing. He was less intimidated by the horse. When he was young, he rode horseback riding. Aged 24, she had metastatic ovarian cancer. Like all other young adults in this group, his life boils down to an accumulation of medical appointments. So embracing Impec’s beautiful white and brown dress soothed her, “bringing her well-being. It has a stress-relieving effect. »

Cloé, 20, also gently stroked Tequila’s brown dress, which would have disappeared with a leisurely pace if Cloé had left it to exchange words. He had cancer of the psoas muscle in his left thigh. “It allows me to think about things other than the disease. »He also feels comfortable with the animal. “I stopped cycling because of scoliosis. It’s a real passion. I was hesitant to start again, but because of my cancer, it was impossible.”

“Give them back their dignity”

Once brushing is complete, the equine practitioner guides the group through a short series of exercises to complete. Exercise as an excuse to “show them that they can do it, to restore the self-esteem they have for themselves. » Murielle Bertholet, the nurse working with this young patient, observes the session. It is he who offers or not a place in the system for teenagers and young adults that was launched in 2018 but really materialized, two years later, with the organization of external activities.

This is the sixth session hosted by the Montbrisonnais Equestrian Sports Recreation club. Each time, the League Against Cancer funds the event. “The physical and emotional upheaval caused by cancer requires significant adaptation efforts, especially for adolescents and young adults. Relational practice experts help them regain their ability to act. They find a little magic thanks to the animals in a safe environment. The feedback has been more than positive. » Also the beautiful friendships that were formed during these sessions.

Muriel Catalano

Serena Hoyles

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