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From Riding to Therapy: A Rider’s Journey

From Riding to Therapy: A Rider’s Journey

An interview-based story about Merete Giørtz-Carlsen her incredible journey through riding and Equine-assisted therapy. 

Merete recalls it as if it were yesterday: standing by the fence as a child, watching the neighbor girl ride. Even in her childhood, she knew that was what she wanted to do. She started at the riding school in Haderslev, but it wasn't easy. She remembers a strict riding instructor who often scolded her, almost scaring her away from the sport.

 

"I think for nearly half a year, I rode on the longe line, and one of the apprentice trainers hated me," Merete recounts. "But it definitely improved my balance because it involved a lot of light riding without stirrups, where I had to kneel in the saddle."

 

Her journey continued to a mill near Christiansfeld, where she rode with an older gentleman. She could stay there over the weekends, and she remembers it as a cozy time. However, it wasn't without challenges. Merete was asked to ride a horse named Paw. Though she loved the horse, she was afraid to ride him. Paw was eventually gifted to her and together they started new adventures.

 

"Paw and I helped each other prepare for medium-level dressage," she says with a smile.

 

After her time at the mill, Merete went to the USA. Her parents encouraged her to go after high school. She stayed with an acquaintance who managed a large farms in the US close to Lancaster in Pennsylvania.

 

"I was with a friend, and we were both used to riding competitions," she explains. "But at first, it was tough. We were only allowed to walk the horses to warm them up while others did the rest. It was frustrating."

 

After a trip to New York, they considered returning home but decided to stay and continue. Gradually, they had the opportunity to participate in competitions and experience the unique equestrian culture in the USA.

 

Merete speaks about the significant differences between equestrian sports in the USA and Denmark.

 

"The competitions are much larger in the USA, and you often have to drive long distances to participate. I even transported horses from Philadelphia to Wellington. It was a complete different approach to the sport."

 

After her time in the USA, Merete returned to Denmark and began studying physiotherapy. She graduated in 1992 and then chose to specialize as Equine-assisted therapy. Her journey brought her back to Kolding, where she started her own Equine-assisted physiotherapy center. Here, she helps people with physical disabilities such as sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and hemiplegia.

 

"It wasn't a direct path," she says, "but I have always had a passion for horses and helping people. Combining the two in my work is a dream come true."

 

Since then, Merete has helped hundreds of patients through Equine-assisted therapy and is a pioneer in the field. She notes that although the journey has been long, it has been worth it.

 

"I am proud of what I have achieved, and I love being able to help people every single day," she says with a smile. "It is my passion, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world."

 

 

 

 
Merete is always on the lookout for new and exciting collaboration opportunities. Her passion for building connections and exploring new paths makes her an engaged and dynamic partner. If you believe that collaborating with Merete could be beneficial for you, or if you are dealing with a physical ailment and would like assistance, you can contact her here. Merete looks forward to hearing from you.


 

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