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Healing horses helping cancer patients in India

Healing horses helping cancer patients in IndiaThe Indian Cancer Society (ICS) is trying its hand at equine therapy to help cancer patients overcome the fear and sense of powerlessness that often accompany a cancer diagnosis. Last week, three cancer survivors were taken to the Mahalaxmi Race Course to familiarise them with horses. ICS is planning to enrol at least 15 cancer patients and survivors for equine therapy.
Shekhar Jha, 30, a cancer survivor, said, “I have never been exposed to any pets in my life. At first, I was hesitant to be near a horse. But getting familiarised with the horse and eventually riding on its back was enriching. When I finally rode him, there was an immense sense of confidence.” Mr. Jha was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, at the age of six. He used to work as an accountant, but is now associated with the survivor’s support group at ICS. Mr. Jha says the trainers guided them in climbing the saddle, with the body language to follow while approaching a horse and other dos and dont’s. Mr. Jha says equine therapy will definitely soothe people coping with stress.
Harsh Baxi, 24, another survivor, said the confidence and sense of achievement he experienced after the ride was overwhelming. “I was petrified at first, but when I got rid of the fear, the experience was enriching.” Mr. Baxi was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 16. After undergoing treatment for a year, he completed his engineering and has now got a placement with Infosys.
Research by the Department of Psychology, Wilkes Honors College, Florida Atlantic University in 2015, shows that “equine-assisted therapy may be an effective treatment for anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms”. The study was carried out on 16 volunteers who underwent a traumatic event.