Ms. Nejra Pinjo lives in Sarajevo and horses have been her passion since she was a little girl. She considers animals as her best friends since used to bring little puppies and kittens home and saving them.
Sarajevo Times: The horse is God’s gift to man. They are fast, powerful, intelligent and noble animals that for centuries serve people and never become servants. Horses and people are friends. Can you tell Sarajevo Times readers when you got your love for horses and when you have actually started to do the therapeutic riding?
“I started riding when I was only 8 years old in a little riding school called Dupple Gray. Even when I got on the horse for the first time I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Ms. Pinjo starts the conversation.
She was introduced to the program of therapeutic riding in 2013 when she started volunteering for Riders of Hope, a therapy program that is part of Pegasos center in Ahatovici in BiH.
“I realized that I loved the whole concept of horses helping people with disabilities probably because I was aware of how much they have helped me overcome my own insecurities and fears as a child and teenager and I wanted to share that feeling with others who are less fortunate than I am. From that moment, my biggest dream was to become a certified instructor and turn my hobby into my profession,” Ms. Pinjo explains.
Sarajevo Times: Ms. Pinjo, you spent six months in the United States and gained the certificate for therapeutic riding as well as for a sports riding instructor. Even though you received several opportunities there, you decided to come back to BiH. Why?
“I gathered all my bravery to start this new adventure in my life. I found a center in Connecticut called “High Hopes Therapeutic Riding “ which is one of the leading centers in the United States of America. I applied and got accepted in the program. I had one big problem that I needed to overcome. Finances. The amount of money I needed to spend on my education was far more than what me and my family could afford. I started looking for funding and someone who will recognize the importance of the improvement of that activity in BiH. I sent over 300 emails to different potential sponsors but simply my word was not heard until I contacted Sanela Diana Jenkins, one of the biggest philanthropists for Bosnia and Herzegovina. She was very happy with the whole idea and knew the importance of it. She agreed to sponsor me and my dream.”
She spent 6 months in the USA learning all about therapeutic riding, different disabilities, horse care and all other parts that are involved in the therapeutic riding program. She got her certification with the highest grades and opportunities started coming her way. Even though she was part of something that is of an enormous importance in the USA, all she could think about were children in BiH and how they deserve something similar to what children in the USA have.
“The only thing I started being greedy about was all the knowledge I could get for these kids. After my education on therapeutic riding I took part in a clinic at Johnson and Wales University in Massachusetts to get my CHA certification for being a riding instructor for sports riding and there I also got amazing comments from my evaluators. It was also an amazing experience because sports riding was what actually got me to therapeutic riding in the first place. I got the opportunity to expand my knowledge in that area and also prove what I already knew,” Ms. Pinjo adds.
Therapeutic riding is the only therapy that is done in fresh air around horses. It is based on their abilities rather than their disabilities which builds up their self-esteem. After the experience of controlling an animal that is so huge, they get the feeling that they could conquer anything.
“That is the feeling I want to offer them. They also build their social skills, strengthen their core muscles and work on whichever difficulty they need to fight during their everyday life. The horse three-dimensional movement helps people who don’t have the ability to walk and they can get the feeling of moving without being anybody’s burden.”
“I came back in hope to bring the whole idea of horses helping people to the next level, it will be tough but I know that if you really want something, especially if it is for something good it will come true,” Ms. Pinjo concluded.