The Horse – Our Common Friend, Challenge and an Open Door


  • The Project aims to create a Swiss-Bulgarian institutional partnership between the Swiss Association for Therapeutic Riding PT – CH SV_HRP and the Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club the basis of which is the transfer in Bulgaria of innovative, Swiss model in social sphere. The Project partners planed a pilot implementation within the Municipality of Ruse – Bulgaria, of Horse assisted therapy method based on developed and successfully applied Swiss methodology. Specific effective measures and real social and economic integration apply through the transfer of Swiss expertise in the implementation of a new kind of social service for people with disabilities, by which real socio-economic inclusion is achieved.
  • Four instructors from Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club are trained how to plan and implement safe and effective therapeutic lessons.
  • Thus the Bulgarian partner is assisted in solving a challenge, which will bring benefits to a wide range of people with disabilities.
  • Adoption of new methods of performing therapeutic riding at a professional level  not only benefits the development of the Club, there is a direct link to socialization and social integration of children with special needsof children with disabilities, marginalized for one reason or another, they are provided with sustainable solutions for inclusion in public life, according to their abilities. The joint initiative between the partners meets the outlined acute need of special social services for this social groupunder the Strategy for development of social services in the Region of Ruse 2010 – 2015 developed with the assistance of UNICEF.
  •  The projectpilotedan innovative model of social service, according to the specified priority target groups for the provision of social services at the municipal level, thus helping to solve specific development problemsto improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the system of social services and the use of the institutional partnership within the framework of the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme.
  • The partnership between the Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club and the Swiss Association for therapeutic riding PT – CH SV_HPR marks the beginning of cooperation in the field of social sphere, but the project aims establishing a strong foundation of partnership in other directions and areas by including the Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club as an associate member of the Swiss Association of Therapeutic Riding PT – CH SV_HPR.
  • Specific problems expected to be solved on the basis of the developed project concept are as follows:
    • Mastering of the Swiss model of application of horse assisted therapy;
    • Promoting a new type of service, developed based on the Swiss model;
    • Create access to alternative therapeutic methods that meet the needs of children with disabilities in the region of Ruse;
    • Involvement of effective policies to new and innovative social services, according to the specifiedpriority target groups. 

The core project activities include:

  • Create an institutional partnership between Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club and the Pferdegestützte T erapie Schweiz “PT-CH (Horse Assisted Therapy Switzerland);
  • Create conditions at the Equestrian Club for the training  and pilot Swiss model application – the indoor arena /manege/ is  built with size of 25m x 60m;
  • Training in Horse Assisted Therapy and pilot implementation of the Swiss model;
  • Forum for the promotion of the Swiss model.



Specific objectives:

  • To create an institutional partnership between the Swiss Association for Therapeutic Riding PT – CH (CH) and the Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club;
  • To transfer from the Swiss partner institution in Bulgaria innovative approaches and methodology of Horse Assisted Therapy and to create access to alternative social services for children and youth with disabilities;
  • To involve local partners from different levels of interaction – municipal and regional administration, parent organizations of disabled children, school boards, , to develop effective policies of new and innovative social services, according to the specified priority target groups on the basis of innovative service for the horse therapy.

The overall objective of the Project is to create a Swiss-Bulgarian institutional partnership for the implementation of an innovative model of social policy which will help to solve specific development problems, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the system of social services for children and youth with disabilities in the Municipality of Ruse, for their personal development.
The overall objective is going to be achieved through the transfer of Swiss partner institution innovative service model in Bulgaria such as the “Horse Assisted Therapy” in addressing specific social issues of children and young people with physical and mental disabilities.

Effects of Project specific objectives achieved are as follows:

  1. A partnership between the Bulgarian and Swiss organization;
  2. Transfer of knowledge from Swiss partner organization in support of the Bulgarian partner in the social sphere;
  3. Implemented innovative approach to horse assisted therapy as a method of social inclusion of disadvantaged children in society according to their abilities taking the utmost account of their needs;
  4. Diversification of social services;
  5. Advantage of Swiss added value in diversifying the services offered to children/young people with physical and mental disabilities, placed more or less in disadvantaged position;
  6. Strengthening the impact and perception of the influence of civil structures in Bulgarian society, such as the level of confidence in public institutions;
  7. Development of effective policies to new and innovative social services, according to the specified priority target groups.



Address: 7000 Ruse, 5, Pirot Str., 2 fl.;

Tel: +359 888 33 24 24; +359 888 14 79 76;

Fax: +359(0) 82 823 238;


Project manager: Stoyanka Yordanova


  • Partnership agreement signed between Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club and the Pferdegestützte Terapie Schweiz “PT-CH (Horse Assisted Therapy Switzerland);
  • detailed action plan was prepared with specific deadlines and responsible persons;
  • Created conditions at the Equestrian Club for the training and pilot model application – the indoor arena/manege/ is built with size of 25m x 60m;
  • Work out and fine-tuning of training plan according to local capacities of the Bulgarian partner (horses, trainers, children); A working visit carried out by the Swiss partner at the Ruse Equestrian Club; Discussed is the target group of children; Prepared detailed training program;
  • In the period from November 2014 to October 2015 the training was held with trainees – five coaches, representatives of the Bulgarian partner. The training was led by lecturers from the Swiss partner’s organization. The training was divided into 4 modules. Each module was with duration of 1 week.
    • First training module was held in the period from 09.02.2015 to 13.02.2015.
    • Second training module was held in the period from 06.04.2015 to 10.04.2015.
    • Third training module was held in the period from 26.05.2015 to 30.05.2015.
    • Fourth training module was held in the period from 06.07.2015 to 10.07.2015.
  • The training was held in the indoor arena, built during the project implementation.
  • The selection of children for their inclusion in the project target group was conducted by one organization from Ruse with long experience in the social services (NGO “Equilibrium Association” – Ruse) with the assistance of the Bulgarian partner;
  • In the time between training modules, trained coaches were worked with children with disabilities on the topics set by lecturers. The students discussed with lecturers through video sessions, prepared lessons based on knowledge acquired in the respective module;
  • After completing the last module, the students had tasks to develop themes. These themes were evaluated by the Swiss trainers. The training finished with obtaining a certificate for each coach who can practice horse assisted therapy;
  • In August 2015 (14.08.2015 – 18.08.2015), two representatives of the Bulgarian project partner were on working visit in Switzerland to Swiss partner association in order to sign document for adoption ofBulgarian club as a member of the Swiss Association for horse assisted therapy;
  • The activity 6 was implemented by organizing an Information Forumattended by 26 representativesfrom Ruse District Administration and Ruse Municipal Administration, the Regional Directorate “Social Assistance” Ruse, Territorial Department “Child Protection” – Ruse, Ruse Regional Educational Inspectorate, Ruse Regional Health Inspectorate, Regional Resource Center, NGO “Fortis, NGO Center „Dynamics”, NGO “Equilibrium Association” Ruse, Association of people with intellectual disabilities – „BAPID”, “Caritas” Ruse, NGO “Child and space”, Limited Liability Company “Institute of Social Management” – Ruse, Foundation “Light of the Balkans”, Association “Humanitas”, parents of children with disabilities participating in the training;
  • The forum was held on 23 January 2016 in the Hall of the Ruse District Administration. The following topics were presented:
    • The project “The horse – our mutual friend, a challenge and an open door”, implemented under the Bulgarian-Swiss cooperation program;
    • Katrin Tschirky – Vice president of the Association of therapy with horses, Bern, Switzerland, presented Swiss innovative model of social service – providing horse assisted therapy for people with disabilities.
    • Lutz Souzzi, President of the Association of therapy with horses, Bern, Switzerland, officially handed over certificates of coaches who were successfully completed training in Swiss program regarding horse assisted therapy.
    • A discussion was held regarding the possibilities for development and application of new social service and implementation of local policies as a result from the implementation of the project;
  • During the forum project brochures were given to the participants of the event.
  • During the project implementation information campaign was realized, including the following publicity and information  activities:


Today, traditional and non-traditional medicine confirms the beneficial effect of the interaction of man and horse. Methods of horse assisted therapy are more widely used in social and medical rehabilitation. Horse assisted therapy helps to improve physical and mental health of people with disabilities. This type of curative procedure has drawn the attention in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and other European countries, the USA and Canada, and in recent years attempts have been made to practice in Bulgaria. These attempts, however, are not based on adequate methodology and a lack of trained professionals is present, therefore service users do not receive quality service, which could endanger their health. In Switzerland successful models have been found to solve these problems, as one of the innovative practices is the Horse assisted therapy. The main challenge set for the Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club in the Project implementation was to master and apply the Swiss approach and methodology for implementation of Horse assisted therapy. The professional marketing of this type of social service combines elements of physical therapy, occupational therapy, expressive therapy, speech-language pathology, education, and psychology and child development, in combination with the Horse assisted therapy. According to data taken from the UNICEF Analysis of Ruse Regional Strategy from 2010, there is a significant number of children with different disabilities in the Region of Ruse - 605 children with physical disabilities, 95 children with mental disabilities, 246 children with multiple disabilities, 113 children with mental illness. Compared to the national level the proportion was 5.47% of the total number of children with disabilities. Therefore, one of the major target groups of the Strategy for development of social services in Ruse 2010 - 2015, developed by UNICEF are children and adults with disabilities. The project concept was focused on solving a specific problem in the social sphere – social inclusion and integration into society of children with disabilities and finding opportunities for sustainable solutions for inclusion in public life, according to their abilities. The project concept allowed for the solution through an integrated approach, which first involves the transfer and absorption of Swiss model of Horse assisted therapy – new for Bulgaria, second – the provision of a new type of social services, and third – coordination at all levels among the institutions involved in the implementation of public policies. In order to implement the project concept, institutional partnership was established between the Swiss Association for horse therapy PT – CH SV_HPR and Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club. The aim of the partnership was the joint execution of activities and transfer of Swiss know-how in the field of horse therapy, in support of the Bulgarian partner. After the establishment of initial contacts between the Swiss Association for horse therapy PT – CH and the Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club, partner organizations planned, as their first joint initiative, an intervention in the social sphere due to the rich experience in this regard by the Swiss partner. Programme for transfer and implementation of the Swiss model was set according to the Project requirements to be implemented in Bulgaria, as training was conducted by partner’s instructors from Switzerland. 10 children with various physical and mental disabilities, speech disorders and sensory deficits were involved in the programme implementation. The indoor arena was the necessary environment for carrying out the training. A synergetic effect was achieved – while conducting training 10 children with disabilities simultaneously benefited a pilot Horse assisted therapy. Following the successful introduction of the innovative Swiss model and its promotion, the Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club joined the Swiss Association for therapeutic riding PT – CH SV_HPR as an associate member. This was an extremely essential element of the project to strengthen the partnership and to develop and introduce new challenges for future sustainable development. As a main long-term objective, the Project completion will enable the Ruse Equestrian and Horse Breeding Club to assist in addressing the challenges of development through the implementation of new social service and create added value for the Bulgarian partner of the transfer of the Swiss model. As a second long-term objective, the Project completion will provide an opportunity to strengthen and develop the partnership that will contribute to the sustainability and development of the Bulgarian partner. The Project objectives are in line with the horizontal priority of the Municipal Development Plan 2010-2015, the improvement and development of the system of social welfare and quality of social services in the Municipality of Ruse.

PT-CH (Horse Assisted Therapy Switzerland) – Berne, Switzerland