Riding for the Disabled

Rebecca Toal by Rebecca Toal Additional Needs

Rebecca Toal

Rebecca Toal

Blessed, busy mum to four beautiful girls, the youngest with complex special needs due to extreme prematurity. We are always looking for ways to ma...

Riding for the Disabled

My daughter Brielle has been waiting a LONG time to get into a riding for the disabled group. I put her name down on a waiting list over 3 years ago at the recommendation of her physio. We thought she’d be matched to a local group 2 years ago, I did a training evening for volunteering and then nothing came of it and sadly no horse match found, we’d almost given up hope. Then my contact called me a few months ago and said they’d be running a session in August every Thursday and Brielle’s name was at the top of the list- I was thrilled!

She used to ride the donkeys at our local Donkey Sanctuary until they became too old and unable to be ridden on- that was a huge pity as it was a highlight of her week every fortnight in school. Then school started taking them to horse riding which she loved but again that all stopped with COVID and all the subsequent disruptions.

We went for her first Thursday session last week, her older sister and I as side-walkers holding onto the back of her hoody tightly so she wouldn’t fall. Her balance is pretty awful with her low tone cerebral palsy so could easily fall, but with practice it should really improve her core tone and balance. That’s one of the main reasons we’ve been pushing to get her into riding. She absolutely loved the session and has been signing (asking for) “horses” ever since.

A happy girl wearing a riding helmet

She really enjoyed holding the reins and trying to turn her horse called Sparky left and right between the cones. Also patting it’s mane and feeling it’s soft coat seemed very soothing and therapeutic for her.

Riding for the Disabled (RDA) is an amazing charity and organisation, and I highly recommend looking up your local group and enquiring about getting into a session or at least filling out some forms and getting onto a waiting list. Your child with special needs or disabilities will most certainly benefit from horse-riding in more ways than one! Whether it is physical, emotional, communication, social- horses and horse-riding have so much to offer and it’s a great way to make new friends too!

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