Founded by Sharon Boyce around 20 years ago, Shumbashaba is dedicated to helping disadvantaged and disabled people through therapeutic riding and outreach programmes. Horses are a big part of the team, along with mental health professionals and equine specialists. Shumbashaba, which means ‘lion of the nation’ in Shona, is all about restoring a sense of purpose and self-worth.
The therapeutic riding programme caters for disabled individuals from Bona Lesedi Day Care Centre in Diepsloot and Cresset House. Those participating in the programme are given the opportunity to interact with and ride the horses while being supervised by specialists.
Horses helping people
Over the years, Shumbashaba has helped several hundred children inside and outside the Diepsloot community. The equine-assisted psychotherapy and personal development programme uses horse-related activities to teach participants about themselves and others. The kids are taught to overcome challenges and find a new sense of purpose within themselves.
Shumbashaba promotes education in various ways. For instance, learners are not allowed to ride for the first few months, but are taught about care and safety for horses from the ground. Once kids have shown dedication and commitment during the ground-based personal development programme, they are ready to ride.
Since Shumbashaba does not have enough horses and ponies for every rider, vaulting lessons are offered on Saturday afternoons to cope with the large number of riders. Thirty to 50 children join the vaulting sessions, and Shumbashaba plans to expand this area by introducing different equestrian skills.
Unified Sports Day
Shumbashaba co-hosts two Unified Sports Days each year with Special Olympics SA, an organisation that caters for people with intellectual disabilities. The event offers four sporting categories: equestrian, soccer, volleyball and bocce. Last year, two riders from Bona Lesedi participated in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Los Angeles. This is an amazing achievement for Shumbashaba.
During the July school holidays, Shumbashaba hosts a camp over three to four days. Children learn about caring for horses, the various equestrian disciplines, and interacting with horses. The kids are afforded valuable life skills and an opportunity to bond with the other participants and the horses.
Shumbashaba hosts annual events for children, typically orphans and disadvantaged or vulnerable kids. The children are invited for half-day interactive sessions with the horses, and get to learn about themselves and others in various fun ways.
As much as Shumbashaba participants get to learn about horses, they also take away valuable life skills such as responsibility, persistence and dedication, caring for animals, respecting other people, and respecting themselves.
Shumbashaba needs your help
Shumbashaba needs financial assistance from the riding community in order to cover the daily maintenance costs. They are looking for 250 riders to contribute R100 on a monthly basis, as well as 40 volunteers to work over six-week cycles. This much-needed funding and help go a long way towards running the programmes over the week and weekend, providing the children with meals, caring for the horses, and maintaining the property. Many of the children who come from the Diepsloot area do not know how to treat, care for, or respect animals. Contributors can rest easy, knowing that their R100 goes towards providing disadvantaged and uneducated children with a safe environment in which to learn valuable life skills and lessons about horse and animal care.
The core seven
There are currently seven riders, called the ‘core seven’, who are ready to start their competitive careers. They have proved themselves to be competent riders throughout the Shumbashaba programmes. The riders have shown a keen interest in dressage and showjumping, so the team would really like to send the group to shows, but the equestrian community’s help is needed to make this happen. Well-known equestrian, Lynda Records, has suggested an informal ‘adopt-a-rider’ initiative, where equestrians can make these riders’ dreams become a reality, by helping them with paying entry fees, show preparation, towing them to the show, mentoring them on the day, and providing them with the right show clothing.
Equestrians who are already involved
Founder of Shumbashaba, Sharon Boyce, works closely with Adrian Forlee, Jacky du Plessis, Patrick Maseko and Renae Erasmus to keep Shumbashaba running on a regular basis.
Lynda and Siobhan Records are also actively involved. Siobhan is a top South African dressage rider, who has kindly offered to school and train two ponies to be used in future riding programmes. Siobhan is also going to back and school one of the Friesians at Shumbashaba.
Dr Wetsi Maloy is a state vet, and a lecturer and examiner for the Equestrian Qualifications Authority of Southern Africa (SANIP). He has kindly offered to vaccinate and deworm the horses, and keep their passports up to date. Karen du Preez from Take Five provides drinks for the riders during their weekly sessions, as well as for the Unified Sports Days.
Charmaine Gardner of CHG Equestrian has provided ongoing help, especially with the use of Travis, the dressage simulator. The core seven have lessons with Charmaine, on Travis, where she spends time correcting their balance and seat, as well as many other technicalities.
Milmac has offered to feed the horses at Shumbashaba at discounted rates, and provide straw bales for the Unified Sports Days.
The Shumbashaba team would greatly appreciate donations in any form, but the need for 250 riders to donate R100 is top priority at the moment. Other ways to get involved include:
- sponsoring meals or snacks.
- donating equipment such as poles, fences, benches and stable accessories.
- donating your time and lending a helping hand when you can.
- providing second-hand tack for the horses.
- donating second-hand riding clothes for the riders.
- donating books and other educational material.
To make a donation, please get in touch with the team:
Sharon Boyce: firstname.lastname@example.org or 084 500 0672
Renae Erasmus: email@example.com or 083 373 6853
Lynda Records: firstname.lastname@example.org