24 Mar 2016


To improve the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of those living in disadvantaged communities through equine-assisted therapeutic programmes.

Location Johannesburg, South Africa
Organisation Shumbashaba Community Trust
Start-end date 1990 - ongoing
Target group Young children and young adults with a focus on youth-at-risk and those with a disability.
Reach To date over 5,000 people have been reached with growing numbers involved each year
Partners Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), Special Olympics South Africa (SOSA), South African Equestrian Federation (SAEF), Local Universities, Private donors, Local community organisations.
Key facts Shumbashaba is a not-for-profit community trust. The Shumbashaba initiative is based in Diepsloot, an impoverished township with a population of 138,329. 56% of the population are youth and young adults. Neighbouring communities have also been serviced as the reach of Shumbashaba continually expands. Research has shown that participants experience an increase in self-confidence, sense of purpose and hope for a better future.
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Shumbashaba’s Horses Helping People utilises equine-assisted programmes specifically designed to improve the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of participants. Equine assisted therapy programmes are implemented to assist in the personal development for at-risk individuals. Equine assisted learning and education programmes impart life skills such as bully and addiction prevention and intervention and pro-social behaviour. General informal education relating to horse welfare and equestrianism as well as workshops offering volunteer training are also provided alongside technical development programmes and integrated Para-equestrian and Special Olympics events. Many of the programmes offered are based on tried and tested Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) models.


Community awareness and acceptance

Shumbashaba has placed a strong focus on instilling a belief amongst the local community regarding the benefits of its programmes. Through a combination of partnership, communication and experience, this focus has resulted in increasing demands for services within the core target area of Diepsloot but also from neighbouring impoverished townships.

Collaboration with community stakeholders

Shumbashaba relies heavily on partnerships with other organisations active in the local community including Bona Lesedi Centre for People with Disabilities, SANCA, SADAG, Diepsloot Arsenal Development Club, Philisa Isizwe Foundation and Southern African Youth Projects. Other interested parties from both sport, commerce and social services are also regularly consulted. Over 40 volunteers help to keep the Shumbashaba programmes growing with an increasing number of participants every year.

Commitment to evidence-based programming

The initiatives are based on proven research and evidence. This information is drawn directly from EAGALA. EAGALA has developed a host of resources in the field of equine assisted learning and equine assisted psychotherapy. These resources are heavily drawn upon to form the basis of Shumbashaba’s ground-based programming, particularly personal development and life skills programmes.

Shumbashaba Community Trust


Promote sport and physical activity

The delivery of action-oriented programmes encourage physical literacy skills amongst participants such as rolling, jumping, cartwheels, handstands, balancing. These skills are all applied to their practice on a moving horse which develops balance and motor co-ordination. Importantly, this all takes place in a fun, outdoor, sunny environment for participants.

Improve public health and well-being

The equine assisted personal development and life Skills programmes specifically address areas that positively impact social behaviour and mental health. Psycho-educational programmes also cover basic health care, protective behaviours and where and when to seek help. Sports programmes facilitate physical well-being through movement, improvements in balance, motor co-ordination and awareness of nutrition and weight.

Support active societies

As well as the programme participants themselves, local school learners are given the opportunity to provide a service to the local community by engaging with the Shumbashaba project. Volunteering in the various programmes enables them to earn community outreach hours while enjoying themselves in an active and positive setting.

Provide equal access to sport

All programmes and services are directed towards impoverished members of disadvantaged communities. This includes a specific focus on disabled sport through bringing together both disabled and non-disabled equestrian athletes in training and competitions such as the Special Olympics Unified Sports Days.


Awareness of the programme is spread primarily through word of mouth. Social Media channels such as Facebook and the official programme blog and website are also utilised. The organisers participate in information sharing at service provider forum meetings and at public events and campaigns addressing the needs of young people and adults.


The monitoring and evaluation of the programme is founded on the principles of Participant Action Learning. Equine assisted personal development and life skills programmes are evaluated using quantitative data obtained from pre and post-programme assessment of participants as well as from qualitative data obtained from participants throughout the programme. At the end of each full programme a group evaluation is used to inform and amend the following edition.

Therapeutic riding programmes have treatment goals which are discussed and agreed upon by the client, the parents / guardians and the coach. These are evaluated on an ongoing basis.

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