Zootherapy in the rehabilitation of disabled people and children with disabilities

Creation of conditions for occupation of disabled children with animals

Photo of Константин Нифонтов
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m 18 years old or older

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Nikitina Elizabeth

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Russia

Headquarters location: city

Yakutsk city, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)

Where are you making a difference?

Region - Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the city of Yakutsk and surrounding areas

Website or social media url(s)


Date Started

June 2020

Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Promote inclusivity
  • Enhance physical activity and wellness
  • Re-imagining the role of pets in society

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €50k - €100k

Organisation Type

  • educational institution: an organisation dedicated to teaching and learning, including primary, secondary, tertiary institutions, and vocational schools

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

In Yakutia, only we tried to engage in hippotherapy. We already have experience organizing such events. In 2018, we conducted courses to improve the physical condition of one child. As a result of the courses, children and youth with disabilities will learn interpersonal skills and will receive irreplaceable experience in non-standard life situations, they will behave more confidently and calmly in society, will become more open, cheerful.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The project will provide social adaptation, creative and athletic rehabilitation, environmental and physical education of disabled children, improvement of their moral and psychological state through hippotherapy (zootherapy.) Contact communication with horses, horse riding training, organization of leisure activities for children and youth with disabilities.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

In the warm season (from May to September), riding riding (hippotherapy) will be conducted in the arena (hippodrome). Specially-trained horses that already have experience working with children with disabilities will be allocated from the Equestrian Federation. 225 children are enrolled in the correctional school, of which we will cover more than 100 children with hippotherapy who study in 2 levels (children in stage 1 are too small in age, and 3 levels are busy preparing for admission to universities and vocational schools). With one child, the lesson is carried out for one month. 100 children will be divided into 5 months, for a month 20 children will undergo hippotherapy. This will require 4 horses. In the Equestrian Federation, there are 2 horses suitable for working with children, we will rent 2 horses.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Carrying out special classes with horses for children with visual and hearing disabilities. Study of the impact of animal therapy on the health of children with visual and hearing disabilities depending on the psycho-emotional portrait, sports, strong-willed and psycho-emotional characteristics. Interpretation of research results and development of guidelines for animal therapy depending on the psycho-emotional portrait. Testing will also be conducted on the basis of the courses, which then, in turn, it will allow you to adjust the therapy for greater effectiveness and develop guidelines for animal therapy.

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

Children who have undergone zootherapy will improve their psycho-emotional state. The need for a constant concentration of attention when riding, concentration, as much as possible possible concentration and self-organization, the need to remember and plan the sequence of actions, both when riding, and when caring for your horse, activate mental processes. During animal therapy, the ability of sick children to learn, learn new knowledge and skills is clearly increased. In addition, there will be positive results in the motor sphere (especially for children with visual impairments): the formation of new motor skills, increasing the amplitude of movements in the joints, reducing muscle spasticity, preventing hip subluxation, preventing contractures in the joints, forming fine motor skills of the arms and legs, improving balance and coordination of movements.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

In 2017-2018, we held 20 classes for children and adolescents with hearing and visual impairment http://nvk-online.ru/v-yakutske-provodyat-seansy-ippoterapii/

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Since 2021, it is possible to conduct paid classes for adults with disabilities with partial reimbursement of expenses from the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), leaving classes free for children with disabilities. Cooperation with international funds, participation in programs of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Sports, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, voluntary donations of citizens and organizations.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

In practice, therapeutic animal therapy (zootherapy) is considered as a complex method of medical and social rehabilitation, allowing to take into account psychological and physiological characteristics of a person. In world practice, the highest form of animal therapy is used - equestrian sports for the disabled - this is a powerful means of social rehabilitation for people with physical or intellectual disabilities, inexhaustible the source of joy, pride, satisfaction with their achievements, never before experienced, is the emergence of faith in the ability to overcome fear, improve one's skills, win, and move forward. The conditions will be created for the promotion of animal therapy in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Specialized saddle for riding lessons, suitable for children - 2000 Euro 4 pcs. Hippo simulator simulating horse riding - 2500 euro 2 pcs. Helmet for riding - 150 Euro 4 pcs. Signing an agreement with a veterinary clinic - 10,000 euros Hippotherapist services - 6,500 euros for 6 months. Pediatrician services - 2,000 euros for 6 months. Neurologist services - 2,000 euros for 6 months. Rental of the arena (hippodrome) - 4285 euros for 6 months. Rent a specialized minibus for the trip of children with disabilities - 4000 euros for 6 months. Feed for horses - 8500 euros for 6 months. Hire of horses for hippotherapy - 17,142 euros for 6 months Services of hippotherapist assistants (4 people assigned) - 8,000 Total - 67077 euros

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Nikitina Elizaveta student, project manager. The ideological leader of the project. Nifontov Konstantin Candidate of Veterinary Sciences, Associate Professor Consultant. Domotov Vasily student, Assistant Project Manager, volunteer Yana Nakhodkina hippotherapist.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

As part of the project, since 2020, classes for children and youth with disabilities will be held at the Yakutsk State Agricultural Academy, who live and study in Yakutsk. The significance of the project is based on social adaptation, creative and sports rehabilitation, environmental and physical education of disabled children and improvement of their moral and psychological state with the help of hippotherapy (zootherapy). Perhaps we will become the official distributors of Purin's product promotion company.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Search engine

1 comment

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Photo of Beatplaza Anelka

Very Unique idea, thanks for sharing