Violin for Wellness

For Riding Instructors

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How to Use the Violin in your Sessions

There are as many ways to use the violin in a therapeutic riding session as there are clients! The biggest advantages you, the instructor, have with me being part of your client’s session, is that when your program has stalled and progress is not so visible in your client, I can provide you a with a new tool in your toolkit.

Here is a video of a child learning to hold his hands up off the saddle. He and I played a game: when he dropped his hands back down to hold on or touch, I’d stop playing. Since he wanted me to play, he lifted his hands back up. Brilliant. Simple. We also were fostering self-esteem by giving him the controls.

As you know, outcomes are not always a given. My live violin performing can help you deliver these outcomes. We work as a team! You need me! Anything you’ve tried, my violin can expand upon. Where I stand in the arena for maximum zap! or instantly changing a tempo to focus the client and horse, this few minutes of neurological stimulation through organic vibrations, can turn things around. This means success!


Please Contact me! Let’s talk about me coming to your arena to give a demonstration!

Outcomes observed include increased confidence and mobility, positive attitude, happy throughout the lesson, and even after the sessions on the way home and during the week.

I know through testimonial from parents and caregivers that they really look forward to the next session, asking about the violin during the week. They look forward to the violin being part of their riding time, participating in a relaxed way, and more responsive to instructor requests or challenges. 

Here is an email after a session with an instructor at a facility out in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia:

“Hello Carolyn,

It was a real pleasure having you come & play Saturday morning. I found the experiment both educational & very enjoyable. Immediate benefits I observed were how focus & attention to tasks for some of the riders were clearly improved. There was also a noticeable improvement in 2 of the horses.

I believe all of the riders enjoyed the experience & I would love to try it with another group I have that’s more advanced.  It was great fun experimenting & I look forward to doing some more work with this.”

Who Benefits? Clients that benefit tend to be those with autistic markers and Down’s Syndrome individuals, but many with ADHD and blindness are also greatly helped. I’ve noticed those with fear of heights or a stumbling horse forget about those fears. I’ve noticed intense calming of those with Tourette’s Syndrome. Also, those with auditory impairment react exceptionally well to the live violin. I’ve also worked with someone with low socialization skills and self-esteem.

The possibilities are as varied as there are people in the world! Please contact me with any questions. I will help you figure out how to implement this kind of service in your facility, for your clients, to combine the arts with health! If you live on the other side of the country, or world, Contact me. I can help.[/vc_column_text][vc_accordion collapsible=”yes” disable_keyboard=”” active_tab=”false”][vc_accordion_tab title=”Applications for Dependent and Independent Riders”][vc_column_text]

If you have a Dependent rider, the violin can get you started by providing focus to encourage the rider to work harder at a Walk/Halt concept, whereby the violin stops without warning, causing the rider to use more core strength in preparation for the stop.
Additional ideas can include a physical therapy twist:
1. Adding the violin to engage through singing, which encourages vocalization and projection
2. Adding many action songs and physical motions. This can include conducting (see video) which encourage focus, follow-through, listening and core strengthening and balance.
3. Working within a cause and effect model. Previous experiences includes teaching a blind girl with mild CP to sign the word “more”; and working on focus and follow through with a Down’s Syndrome rider.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Instructor Helgi also comments about J’s brother, who was riding simultaneously, “When his brother was trotting, I asked him to watch him trot, and he was looking back and forth between you and his brother, and this lightbulb came on; his brother was trotting to the music (because the music was a trot tempo, quick gait)! It was so cute. He’s said the word trot before but not really enjoyed trotting but today that’s all he wanted to do once that lightbulb went on. The music made trotting fun.”

If you have an Independent rider, getting started can mean using the violin for a drill routine, providing the client with a unique focussing tool. I have found clients work harder to follow through with instructions when the violin is providing a forward rhythm, such as in a trot or active walk.The horse is also more engaged, which translates to more energy for the rider to learn how to control. Also, previous arena anxiety is dispelled due to the violin creating a different focal point. The rider tends to forget about the original anxiety. When this new way of riding is possible, tasks can be executed more successfully.Instructors say this about their Independent riders:[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Instructor Lisa says about a client,

“The anxiety level was present initially, especially since you were a new person in the arena. But quite early in the lesson, M started to focus very well and when the horse started to get a bit quick, she didn’t panic. The anxiety level was reduced, and Dad, who watched, said that was the best “circle” ever.  Lexie usually wants to do a big horse trot and M was able to control her because of motivation.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][vc_separator color=”black” align=”align_center”][vc_column_text]Violin for Wellness™ Program Advocacy
Support including this arts component to your program at your facility. It is a wonderful upbeat addition, and sparks ideas for the instructors, creating energy for everybody, including the horses. I will be happy to come introduce the program to you or your board. Please Contact me.

At this time, I invoice my parents as an independent contractor. They pay me directly for a number of visits, generally 4 or 5 weeks. If the the violin is impactful and the client responsive, the parents sign-up for more.

Once parent interest has been established, marketing is done by way of your facility newsletter and social forums, along with continuous networking on my part.  It can also happen that parents find out about Violin for Wellness™ as the session progresses, because they’ll be observing others participating with the violin. Parents can sign-up at any time, but I recommend no less than 4 weeks, as this gives more time for the program to do its magic.

I have noticed for independent riders, it is possible and sometimes downright fun to work with two, even three, simultaneously, in the same 1/2 hour. There are drill games and challenges that stimulate and focus everybody.

As the program grows, we can discuss how to facilitate another funding model. Adding a musical component to a facility’s regular offerings can be a win-win for all parties, as granting agencies award not-for-profits for innovation and multi-disciplinary approaches to learning. It may also be attractive to sponsors and donors, as they see the facility as broadening their scope.
[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”black” align=”align_center”][vc_column_text]Intro Workshop/Demonstrations
I can offer a pro bono workshop on the day that works best for you. It can work in conjunction with a Horse Show or other public event. I recommend two or three varied-abilities clients so I can show diversity of application.

As each individual is different and Instructors have preferred styles of instructing, a quick pow-wow in the a.m. of that day will help us collaborate to create a quick sketch of what might work for the participants. I will learn what the participants need and the Instructors can learn about some of the ways I can meet those needs.

Please click here Violin, Horses and Challenges to read how the horses like the violin in their environment.

Contact Carolyn Cole


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Click on Client Journeys for examples of violin and therapeutic riding collaboration.

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The Magic of The Violin

Instructor Helgi says about this client:

“Before we couldn’t get J to lift his hands (off the horse) at all. So you gave him motivation to hold them up himself (turning the task into a game).
I mean, to even hold them up himself, it would always be ‘nope, nope, nope, hands down x3’.
We could’ve forced them, but we didn’t need to because the music enchanted him. By the end he was holding them up voluntarily and getting to control when the violin would play and when it wouldn’t.” 

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2015 Journal Entry 

E., cerebral palsy and other diagnosis, was initially fearful and anxious to ride so was making large shaking motions. I asked her mother if I could play for her. I Did. Outside. Played something calming. She focussed and stopped shaking, still worrying her lip, though, but focussed on me.

Later, on horse, she was anxious, so I played Beauty and the Beast and she enjoyed that and showed this through more relaxed posture.

Soon, she was brought over to me at the rail and I played The Swan. Marked difference, she closed her eyes and moved her arms quickly right in front of her body, as if pleased. It was quite astonishing.

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[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”black” align=”align_center”][vc_column_text]Client Emily Audio and Appreciation

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[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”black” align=”align_center”][vc_single_image image=”1794″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”large”][vc_accordion collapsible=”yes” disable_keyboard=”” active_tab=”false”][vc_accordion_tab title=”What could be more ideal? Listen to some examples I use in the arena:”][vc_column_text]1. Loch Lomond, the tune below, is perfect for warming up the client and horse together. It is very gentle, soothing and releases any tension or anxiety, as an induction to further instruction from you.

2. Below is a simple nursery tune, Eensey Weensey Spider, that is easily recognizable by your clients and will inspire a verbal or action response. This is a teaching moment, as you will find the client suddenly receptive to your request.

3. Below is a the tune Happy and You Know It, for engaging the client in clapping hands and further actions, to further your instruction reach and help create well-being.

4. If you need a trot, there are many tunes with a 2-beat that can be used. Here is an example:

Intrigued? Good! Let me show you how I can boost your clients outcomes. Contact me so we can get started![/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][vc_single_image image=”2734″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”large”][/vc_column][/vc_row]