Horsing Around

Katrina Dorrian by Katrina Dorrian Additional Needs

Katrina Dorrian

Katrina Dorrian

Hi! I'm Katrina, I have 8yr old triplets; one who has spina bifida, hydrocephalus and epilepsy. I also have MS, so we've a busy (but happy) house!

As a child, I was obsessed with horses. I rode every Saturday in the local riding school and thought about horses most of my days.

When I was 13 I was fortunate to get my very own horse, a quite mad little thoroughbred type mare who taught me mostly how to hold on!

I’ve passed this love onto my children, especially my daughter.

My other kids love horses but didn’t go to riding lessons (thankfully, or we’d be bankrupt!).

One of my sons has spina bifida, hydrocephalus and epilepsy. He is a full time wheelchair user.

We have had an incredibly hard time recently as his epilepsy has worsened considerably and we are now having to explore surgical options to control them.

It has led to behavioural challenges such as impulsivity, rigid thinking, a quickness to anger and so on.

With my background, I thought it might be worth trying to see if working around horses would help Jacob. How right I was!

We went to a local girl who owns Peppermint Farm where she trains horses with her own technique that she calls “MINT” (Made Is Never Together).

It’s a non aggressive way to interact with traumatised horses in a calm, holistic and compassionate way.

Jenna has trained a beautiful little pony called Elsa, who now helps children with additional needs at the “Incartus pony foundation” where Jacob first rode (which is how we heard of Jenna).

Back at Peppermint farm lives a lovely horse called Puzzle who has come through his training.

The triplets were allowed to groom him, feed him some treats and learn about how to care for him.

Jacob then built up confidence and was able to try leading Puzzle using a very loose rope and eventually his voice alone!

He was blown away by the whole experience and was able to see how his own behaviour affected Puzzle’s.

For example, when he was uptight and shouted then Puzzle was backing away from him. We had an absolutely fantastic day and Jacob said that he felt “so happy” to have led a big strong animal around using only his voice!

The next weekend we also went to a lady called Mandy who has a small rescue pony called Amber.

She has an adapted saddle that offers all round support for Jacob, who would otherwise be unable to sit unaided.

He was really quite scared at first when he got on Amber, although the more Mandy led him, the more confident he became.

We watched with such pride as Jacob conquered his fears and got to ride a beautiful pony round little quiet lanes.

It was honestly magical to hear Jacob say “the horse is chasing all my fears away!”.

He was calmer with Amber and whenever she didn’t respond to the way he asked her to do something, he was able to ask in a different way.

That sounds like a small thing, but for Jacob, to show flexibility in his approach is really very special.

As a family, we are trying to focus on making special memories as things really are “day by day”; so I am so thankful to both Mandy and Jenna at Peppermint Farm for allowing us to visit and enjoy their beautiful animals.

In the meantime, I will try and persuade my husband that a little pony would be a WONDERFUL addition to the family…(as if we don’t have enough to worry about!)


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