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at 176 English Road, Bannockburn, VIC

Therapeutic Horse Riding Lessons

We specialise in helping children with mental health and developmental concerns. Anyone is welcome to come and experience the magic of being with these beautiful animals.

If your child needs something fun, positive and relaxing to do and loves animals, then therapeutic horse riding might be a great option. We have experienced and safe horses and ponies that enjoy their role of helping humans have a lovely time here at the farm, either riding or just playing. Kim has been teaching for over 10 years and is very experienced at assisting a variety of individual needs and works on the concepts of keeping her students safe, developing some skills and mostly having fun.

We don’t focus on what they cant do, but what they can and work with an ethos of kindness and understanding.  We can cater for a range of mental and emotional needs. However physical limitations will need to be assessed to make sure that they would be safe riding.  The horses  build a bond with their riders/handlers and as a team we work with the students in a very caring and tailored way to suit each individual. We can develop a program that will enable your child to develop some new skills, while enjoying their time in the peacefulness of this country setting. 

We teach gentle methods that work with the horse, while learning some animal behaviour skills. We teach skills on the ground and riding and work on riding skills as well as confidence, acceptance, understanding, kindness, communication (verbal and non-verbal), awareness,  coordination, balance, understanding of horse behaviour and mostly how to have fun.

Minimum age is 4 years and maximum is 21 years old. 

Maximum weight is 70kgs. Otherwise non-riding activities are available. 

Please contact Kim at Heartwood Horses for more information. 

Call 0458 7475 34
email kim@heartwoodhorses.com.au

The Instructors

Kim is a Child Therapist and is studying her Masters in Play Therapy. Her daughter Leah is studying Occupational Therapy. They have combined their knowledge and skills with their years of horse ownership and riding as well as instructing experience, to be able to give your child a lovely experience on their calm, safe and well trained horses. Spending time with and forming a connection to these amazing animals will help to build connection, trust, coordination, fitness, body awareness, balance, emotional regulation, mindfulness, focus and enjoyment. 

Suitable Health Concerns 

We have experience at helping children with Autism, Anxiety, Lack of Confidence, Depression, ADHD, Delayed development, mutism and Trauma, We don’t work with any diagnosis in mind, we work with the special person that comes to us to make it a fun and positive experience. We do screen children to make sure that they are suitable for our program and that we can keep them safe. The children need to be able to follow instructions, be able to walk reasonably well, have some balance, some spatial awareness and are not too scared of animals. We do have dogs so please let us know if there are any issues there and we can lock them up. Generally most students love our friendly dogs that love to assist us.

Family Friendly

This program is very inclusive of families. Siblings are welcome to also have a lesson when we have the staff available to assist. Siblings enjoy the benefits just as much as the initial students and don’t need to feel that they are missing out. They can sometimes even encourage the student.  Parents and other family members are welcome to attend and even come with us when we do our little trail rides. The students enjoy the time and attention of their family members so we really encourage watching and participating. It is also helps them feel safe in the beginning and you will only be asked to assist if we have a specific request. Mostly it is just a case of relaxing, watching, learning a bit yourself and encouraging. 


Benefits of Horse Riding

The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of being with Horses and riding Horses has been well known buy horse owners and horse enthusiasts for a very long time, but now science and medicine can caught on and now these benefits are well researched and understood. Leading to equine therapy in its wide and varied forms spreading in popularity all over the world.

As a horse riding from a very early age and horse owner since a teenager it is something I know innately. It was not until I started to teach children to ride that I used to see all these wonderful affects happened in hours, days, weeks and months. Finally I was able to start training to be a child therapist and use all the knowledge from my training with my riding lessons. Then I was able to greatly hone my skills to use the horses as a wonderful tool to help children deal with all sorts of issues they were facing in their daily lives.

Physically there is the movement of the horse, the rhythm and the grace. There is a need for balance and  coordinated movement of muscles and with arms and legs being able to work equally or opposed. They need to understand direction, focus and being aware of their own and their horse’s personal space.

Emotionally the horses and the peaceful environment help the children to feel, safe, supported (physically & emotionally) and calm. Horses have a large energy field and this encapsulates the person next to them or on them. The slow rhythm of the movement is soothing and there is little need for verbal expression. They are very accepting and non-judgemental. They value and mostly expect authenticity and congruence.

All of these other affects have a wonderful influence on our mental state. We can be mindful and present in the moment as they are. Riders need to be focused on the task at hand and their kindness and calming energy can calm anxious thoughts and worries. Having fun and enjoying being with these amazing animals is a wonderful antidote to stress, tension and fears. These horses are curious and playful encouraging students to do the same.

Whether you believe in the spiritual benefits that is certainly a personal choice, but if you are open to such notions then there is something quite special and healing about being with horses. They have a special quality that is not able to be written but only felt. There is a timeless to this as they have been on this earth for millions of years and what they have evolved into and what they are capable and often willing to do for and with humans is extraordinary. They have a wisdom that we have trouble understanding as it is so different to our human understanding of this. This is the mystic part of equine therapy is when you just need to come and try it. And if you don’t connect with a particular horse, or a particular therapist don’t give up. We are all individuals with our own personalities, skills set, knowledge, wisdom and or course horsemanship skills and connection and relationship with our horses. A good equine therapist will have a very strong bond with their horses and this will be obvious from the beginning.  This partnership is what will offer the best experience as they role model the bond and love a horse and owner can have.

Times, Costs & Conditions


Private Lessons for one hour are by appointment only. Preferably text or phone call.                          
Siblings are able to attend together at selected times. 
Mondays to Fridays: 9am to 1pm
Saturdays 9am to 3pm
Sundays: limited availability


 $70 Private lesson
$60 Sibling to attend the same session. 
Invoices and receipts are available.  
We are not registered with NDIS at this stage. 

Bookings & Conditions

You will need an informal interview before booking a lesson. This can be done during your initial enquiry. This helps to determine the child’s suitability for our program.  Then you will be require to complete an intake form to confirm this suitability and a waiver.
Bookings are made by phone or text. Emails are only checking in the evenings. Mobile: 0458747534
Cancellations can be made on the day due to unsuitable weather, or the child is unwell. Otherwise 12 hours notice is required or you will be still be charged for the lesson. Confirmation is also required at least 12 hours before the lesson.  Text is fine. 
A parent or carer must be present during the lesson.
Age limit is from 4 years to 21 years old. 
Maximum rider weight is 70 kg. 
All payments are required to be made within 24 hours or a $20 late payment fee will be included.                    Cash or direct deposit is suitable. This is not applicable to agency payments. 
Account name is: Heartwood Horses                                  BSB is 633000.    Account No. is 140348103

Owner & Therapist

What’s in a name

Why Heartwood?

Trees develop a hard, dense spine-like wood that gives the tree a solid foundation around which to grow; this core is referred to as ‘heartwood’. The heartwood not only gives trees strength and longevity, but also the flexibility to be moulded by the elements. My hope is to help give children the skills and flexibility to face life’s challenges and thrive.

We have horses because we love them with all our heart, and they fill our hearts. We need to be strong and stable for them, so that we can have a safe and fun relationship and make all the time, money and effort worthwhile.

Why Equine Therapy

I have been studying Natural Horsemanship since having children and buying my first horse as an adult. I needed a way to overcome my fears and regain my confidence. This led me to have a deep and connecting relationship with my horses that I had never dreamed of. 

 I am now able to assist others with their journey into the wonderful world of horses – whether by being led on a pony ride, taking a lesson or developing a relationship with their horse. 

Working with children with a wide range of abilities and my understanding of the amazing therapeutic benefits of horses and riding has now led me to return to Graduate Studies at University where I plan to complete my Masters in Child Play Therapy in 2021. This will give me a much greater understanding and set of skills, in how to help children with a variety of needs and use my dogs and horses to help them develop new skills and self confidence, 

Heartwood Health

At the end of 2021 we will be offering Animal Assisted Play Therapy. We have a designated Play room known as Heartwood House and I will be certified with the International Institute of Animal Assisted Play Therapy.
Please see more information at www.heartwoodhealth.com.au 

Kim’s qualifications

I have a Graduate Diploma in Therapeutic Child Play. 

I am studying my Masters of Child Play Therapy at Deakin University and will finish at the end of 2021.

I have completed Level 1 training with the International Institute of Animal Assisted Play Therapy.

I am a Qualified Riding Instructor with Horse Safety Australia.

I am a Qualified Yoga Instructor with Dru Australia.

I am Qualified Yoga Therapist with Dru Australia

I am a trained Positive Psychology Coach

I Have my Cert IV in Training and Assessment.

Level 2 First Aid Accredited.



176 English Road,
VIC 3331

Where we are

Get in touch


Kim Wood
0458 747 534

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