Recently at the stables we have had a new resident join our RDA family. A very lovely and friendly pony called Duke. I have been helping to train him in some of my riding lessons.
At the moment when the weathers not too hot and we are not going for hacks around the woods enjoying the sunshine and keeping cool. I am doing a lot of work with him going round corners and doing things like circles as he loves to lean onto my helper and ask for hugs and kisses all the time.
When riding Duke I notice I tend to go over to the left side more so we’ve been working a lot on straightness. This has really helped me to stay in the middle of the saddle and I find he responds better to me when walking straight compared to when we do work in the school involving doing circles or going in and out of cones.
I have found that if I do some pole work with him trying to make sure he is straight and not drifting this can really help him to make sure he picks up his legs and doesn’t trip or lose his balance as much. He finds balancing quite hard but we’re working on it.
What’s really lovely about him is that he always wants to try his best and wants to learn.
Due to the hot weather recently I have not been doing work with him in the school but going out for hacks in the woods instead. Going out in the woods I have found has really helped him to stay more straight and not drift so much. This has helped me a lot with keeping in the middle and not sitting to one side. As well as this when we go on hacks sometimes the horses and ponies might see something they are not used to like a ladder. So when gong out I have been able to show Duke things he might not have seen before whilst giving me lots of positive reinsurance .
I have found helping to train Duke very interesting as I also helped to train Billy when he first joined. It’s interesting how even though Duke is slightly older than Billy I need to work with him more on tasks Billy found more easy in the beginning when he first joined such as not drifting towards the helper or staying on the track.
I really enjoy riding Duke he’s so gentle and friendly and I can’t wait to see all the amazing things he will achieve in the years to come!
Growing up I remember watching lots of different Children’s TV programs but very few of these programs featured a character with a disability. The only program I really remember watching as a child that featured a disabled character was The Story Of Tracey Beaker. However I only started watching The Story Of Tracey Beaker when I was old so what about before then?
I was diagnosed with my disability when I was in year 2 of primary school. My teacher at the time noticed I was having difficulties compared to my classmates and that’s when the many hospitals appointments started. I remember at the time I didn’t really know what was going on all I knew was that I had to spend days off school to go to the hospital some where near and some felt very far away.
I remember the doctors and my parents explaining to me that I had a disability and that I had some brain damage that my other friends didn’t have but everyone is unique and life would be boring if we were all the same. During this time I did start to tell my friends at playtime that my brain was a bit different to theirs as I got used to saying I had a disability that’s when things started to change. Friends drifted away and started to make fun of me not wanting me to be with them. This was hard for me as I didn’t understand why because to me I hadn’t changed. I was still the same old me.
I remember coming home from school sitting on the sofa watching TV and I couldn’t see what was wrong with me just that I was different but I didn’t understand why I was treated differently. As I grew up I understood more and more what a disability was, how it made me different and how others saw me but to me I was still the same.
I remember watching TV programs and thinking I was strange as I couldn’t see anyone else like me but to me I was normal. As I got older I understood more and more about my condition and why others treated me differently but when watching the TV sometimes I felt strange as I couldn’t see a person in the programs quite like me. Until I was older and started watching The Story Of Tracey Beaker which had disabled characters in.
Not seeing characters with disabilities in things I watched when I was younger now looking back really affected me. I think it made me feel that I was strange a freak as I couldn’t identify myself with anyone from my favourite programs but my friends and other classmates could. It made me feel that whatever I did I wouldn’t fit in and when your a child all you want to do is be able to fit in with everyone else; to feel accepted and liked by others.
This is why I think it is brilliant that the very popular pre-school show Peppa Pig will have the permanent feature of Mandy Mouse starting in 2020.
I believe that it is very important to have disabled characters in TV shows for children who are very young like preschool years. I think that having characters like these introduced on Children’s TV is important as it helps to show young children that everyone is different and that we are not all the same. I also think that having more disabled characters on Children’s TV will massively help young disabled children feel less alone and it may help them to understand more about what having a disability is like and the types of things they may face. I also believe that if we show characters like these on Children’s TV from a young age then children may not feel like they need or should pick on or bully others that outside society’s norm. As well as this I believe it sends the message to children from a young age that someone might be disabled but disabled people can still do things and you might have more in common with them than you think!
As some of you may know recently Riding for the Disabled launched their 50 Faces Campaign. I am very lucky and pleased to say I am part of for this campaign. So this got me thinking about how my horse riding and love for horses journey began.
The first time I sat on a horse I was terrified. I only managed a few steps and then just had to get off. You wouldn’t believe me now if I told you. I love going horse riding I look forward to my Saturday morning lessons like mad. I would ride everyday if I could! Going horse riding helps me to stay and be more positive I have found that horse riding and just being with the horses and ponies really does wonders to positively impacting on my mental health.
Just been out on a hack with King.
One primary school holiday I did try horse riding again with Camp Mohawk at a nearby stables to the centre.I remember doing a bit of trotting for the first time with a leader and our riding instructor. When my parents came to lead me around the hacks we would go on. After the summer holidays I decided that I wanted to do weekly lessons at the stables as I enjoyed it so much. At that stables I normally would ride Candy or King. King was a very naughty Pony!
One of my first lessons on Anya.
Whilst riding at this stables my mum came across Riding for the Disabled Association and put me on the waiting list. It was lovely when we got a phone call from South Bucks RDA asking if I would like to come for an assessment as I had been on the waiting list for a very long time. I remember on the way to the stables I was so excited but when I got there I didn’t want to get on. After a bit of persuading I got on and I’m so happy and glad I did. The first pony I ever rode at South Bucks RDA was called Barbie she was lovely by the end of the assessment I didn’t want to get off!
And that’s when amazing life changing journey with horses and ponies started. Since that first assessment I have achieved things I never thought would be possible. Horse riding has helped my self esteem and confidence massively. From doing The Countryside Challange and Dressage Competitions at Regional and National level, doing horse riding and horse care as part of my Short Course PE GCSE to meeting Princess Anne!
Rosette from The Countryside Challange 2011.
National Championships with Bonnie 2012.
RDA massively helped me when I was getting bullied. The horses and ponies are like my best friends and I trust them more than people! When I went horse riding I could just forget about the things happening at school. I felt safe and it is a place where I can focus on what I can do and it’s not about what I can’t do. I love all the horses and ponies at RDA with all their different personalities. I have grown a massive bond with the horses and ponies at RDA I call them my Saturday morning pets! The bond between horse and rider is so beautiful, unique and powerful theirs nothing else quite like it!
RDA isn’t just a place where I go riding every week it’s a family. All the grooms and volunteers are amazing without them I wouldn’t of been able to achieve what I have! RDA changed my life and continues too I don’t think I’d still be here if it wasn’t for the RDA. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
This week is Mental Health Awareness week, the theme this year is Body Image. The way bullies treated me through my school life really had a massive negative affected on my mental health and how I saw myself compared to my peer group . It still affects me to this day.
Growing up at school with a disability was very hard for me . I looked different from my peer group as I wore a leg splint on my right leg . I couldn’t wear girls shoes as my splint couldn’t fit into many shoes at all sob I had to wear boys school shoes. I remember their came a time when I had to wear trainers to school and I got picked on a lot because my peer group didn’t understand why I could wear trainers and they couldn’t. I’d get called a teachers pet in class all the time.
I remember I would get bullied because of the designs I had on my splint other kids would say they were childish.As well as calling and shouting out words down the corridor when they saw me from “cripple”or a “spastic” to telling me they would cut off my legs. The bullying from wearing a splint got so bad I decided I wouldn’t wear a skirt to school so that my splint wouldn’t show so much. But of course when it came to summer and the warm weather other girls would bully me for not wearing a skirt but instead still wearing trousers like I did in the colder months. I remember this one time when I took off my splint because sometimes it would rub so much and my foot would be red and sore and another student told me they would break my leg so I wouldn’t need to wear a splint. When I came home at the end of the day I would wish I didn’t have to wear one in the hope the bullies would stop. I just wanted to feel accepted and normal.
Unfortunately the bullying didn’t stop their I was also bullied for having curly hair . At school I remember it was really fashionable to have straight hair, however mine was curly. I remember I used to think I was friends with these’s other girls who were popular. They would pour hot and fizzy drinks in my hair and tell me it was shampoo and that I needed to straighten it. But when I did straighten it they would always say it wasn’t straight enough. Having curly hair really affected me for a very long time but now I am on a journey to loving my natural curly hair but that’s a whole different post in it’s self.
One other massive thing that affected my body confidence growing up was having facial hair. I got bullied loads because of it, not just my peer group or other students in different years but also by some members of staff. Bullies made my life miserable. I began to feel scared just at the thought of having to go to school and knowing people would laugh and point. Walking down the corridors or going to the canteen for lunch was so horrible and scary I was always on edge. Other students would shout at me from down the corridors and call me names like Frida Kahlo. I remember this group of girls who threatened to pour acid on me if I didn’t get rid of it. Other students started to try and make rumours about me; I would sometimes just hear people laughing at me as I walked past as I was trying not to make eye contact wishing the ground would swallow me up.
Harnaam Kaur photo from Instagram.
One of my helpers was really lovely and tried to help me. I remember the day she told me one day about a lady called Harnaam Kaur. Harnaam Kaur also known as the bearded dame is a body positivity warrior and activist. She has a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of 16 she decided to embrace herself for who she is. She stopped removing her facial hair just because others didn’t like it.
Harnaam really helped me to not feel like a freak and that I wasn’t alone. Bullies made me want to end my life. With all the horrible things that happened to me at school. However Harnaam helped me to stay true to myself. I now get rid of my facial hair but because I want to not because I feel I have to in order to please others!
Though what happened to me was horrible I am now on a never ending journey with trying to be more body positive as well as building up my self -esteem, confidence and self worth.
Bryony started with the South Bucks branch of Riding for the Disabled (RDA) from the age of 8. As her Dad, I’ve got a lot of pleasure seeing how they have helped her overcome some of her problems whilst riding.
But before we get into that, I must confess that sometime in the last century I was also a keen horse rider: my mum had a horse called Blaze and, given her back problems, I became Blaze’s main rider for a few years. I mucked him out (sometimes), I prepared him for shows and won a few rosettes at the local Pony Club Events.
But while the few photos I have are of show events, my memories are quite different. I remember the togetherness of riding him over a round of small jumps with no saddle and no bridle (although I don’t remember how!). And my best memories are of sitting on his back revising for my “O” levels while he grazed on the grass in our small paddock. The type of togetherness that can bind man and animal, or, in this case, boy and horse. I didn’t have a lot of friends at school and Blaze was probably my best friend that summer.
So I can easily understand how the RDA has helped Bryony, how it continues to help, and hopefully help in the future. Her 45 minutes every Saturday morning are one of the top highlights of the week as she becomes a very different person. She becomes much more confident and self-assured, almost literally discarding her other issues as she gets on her horse at mid-day on Saturday. Her horse, whether it be Mabel or Billy, senses that Bryony is in charge. The horse may be led (usually by Hazel), but Bryony is definitely the boss. Her concentration is evident to us, her family, but we see something others don’t. We see that the issues and concerns that are very visible for most of the week are simply not there once she is riding. No-one is threatening her, or making fun of her, and that is clear from her appearance and confidence on the horse. I can’t remember when we last saw her have a fit on the horse, whilst she continues to have such episodes at home when she is not on a horse. Maybe it is the girl/horse relationship, maybe it is the nurturing and care of RDA staff, or more likely it is both of these. As Bryony puts it: the RDA is a second caring family to her and that’s an amazing thing to have when one is six foot up in the air on a very strong four-legged animal!
Bryony started this blog last year and we both hope that while it helps her, it can also help its readers, and can help others discover the pleasures – and very real benefits – provided by the RDA.
If you are a regular reader of my blog or follow me on my social media platforms, you will know that I am passionate about talking about disability. I want to help raise awareness of living with a disability but also help others who have disabilities too to feel not alone. I also want to show others that we might be disabled but we are still have lots of things in common with able bodied people. After all what is normal?
Image from Canva.
I decided to start a blog as I already had an instagram account called defeating disability which I used to document my life though photos. I then decided that I wanted to write about my experiences and thoughts this then lead onto me creating defeating disability the blog! My first ever blog post was last year back in May 2018 and it was about The Riding for the Disabled Association.
Image from Google Images.
I did intend to talk about my disability online from the beginning as I first started defeating disability on Instagram. The first ideas for starting a blog was because I wanted to share my experiences with living life with a disability and show others just because someone maybe disabled that doesn’t mean they can not achieve want they want and that we all have hopes and dreams for our future disabled or not. As well as this around the time I started the blog I was looking into supported living so I wanted to document my experiences with going and living in supported living. Showing others that a future is possible and that a future comes in many different shapes, ways and sizes.
Image from Google Images.
Yes, In the beginning I wasn’t sure if writing about my disability was a good idea because I wasn’t sure how it would be perceived. But now looking back I am so glad I did because I have been able to help other disabled young people . From writing and talking about my disability I now get quite a few messages from people saying that they now are beginning to see that not all disabilities are visible and that if someone comes out of a disabled cubical that doesn’t mean they are ” faking ” being disability.
Image from Google Images.
I get quite a few comments now from people telling me when they read my blog posts they now have a bit or more of a understanding about what it is like to live with an invisible disability daily.
I don’t just talk about disability other topics included Mental Health, Performing Arts, Life ,Recipes and lots more. I have some very exciting new content ideas I hope to use soon!
Image from Google Images.
This is definitely an area I need to work on! I like to lots of photos and pictures in my posts to help break down my writing I also like to use photos that help to illustrate what I’m writing about.
I enjoy blogging about my disability because I am able to share my experiences and this can really help others with disabilities to feel not alone.I also have had messages from people who have disabled relatives or friends saying some of my posts have really helped them to understand more about things disabled people can face and live with on a daily basic . I love writing about my experiences with Riding for the Disabled and how this incredible charity has helped me for many years and continues to help me. I have had messages from lots of people saying that by reading my posts about RDA they now want to do horse riding lessons which I think is just amazing! I enjoy also raising awareness for invisible disabilities.
This one is a hard question for me as I feel that they all my blog posts have a powerful message to share. But if I had to choose I’d probably go for:
1. How horse riding helped me through getting bullied ( TRIGGERWARNING) – This blog post is about how horse riding helped me to keep going when I was getting bullied at school and just wanted to not be here anymore.
2. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover- This blog post is all about living with an invisible disability.
3. A letter to the education system- This blog post is all about the struggles I have had trying to access higher education with a disability.
Images from Google Images and Instagram.
I think that their are starting to become more disabled Bloggers and Youtubers entering the community but I think we still have along way to go. I think more brands and companies could work more with disabled Bloggers and Youtubers for example by dong more collabs. I think that disability still needs to be represented in the media more as we are part of society.
Image from Canva
Sometimes I may find it hard but I try and find inspiration from other bloggers or I do sometimes like using websites such as Pinterest to look for ideas. I will always try and write about just normal things I do as I enjoy sharing what I’ve been up too I can sometimes relate it to a disability storytime .
Image from Google Images.
I think that blogging about disability can help to change people’s perceptions however I think blogging about disability can also help others to understand the challenges disabled people can face.More importantly I think blogging about disability and not making it a big thing can show others that the disabled community has more in common with them as they may think!
I tag anyone who is a disabled Blogger/YouTuber who wants to be involved with this tag created by blogger Elin Williams who is behind the disability and lifestyle blog “My Blurred World”.
When I am at college I sometimes find expressing my emotions to others very challenging. As I can feel threatened in this environment due to my past experiences at school with being bullied. The bullying affected me so much doctors diagnosed me with PTSD. To help me process and communicate with others I sometimes use communication aids to help me express myself in ways I feel safe and comfortable to do so.
To help me communicate with others I have done Lego Therapy with my support staff but also in small groups with other students. Lego Therapy is all about trying to identify your emotions by putting a colour to it. For example my happy colour is yellow and my safe colour is green. I use Lego because sometimes I might be feeling more than one emotion so we stack the Lego bricks onto each other.
Lego helps me because in the past whilst doing this with other students I have had to do our whole week in colour. By seeing my week visually using Lego has helped me to understand that my emotions can be mixed and that is ok. Doing this has helped me to identify why I might be feeling upset and other emotions during the week. Talking it through with colours makes me feel more relaxed in sharing how I maybe feeling to others. By dong group sessions it has helped me to understand that I am not “silly” for feeling some emotions as others can feel similar emotions to me in some situations.
By using colour I have been able to cope better with my feelings and thoughts rushing around in my head at 100 miles an hour. Sometimes when this happens I don’t know what’s going on.However if I can find a colour that best describes how I am feeling this can help to slow down my thought process into a more manageable way and it becomes less scary and less overwhelming for me.
I use this to also help me to tell others how the voices I live with are making me feel. I have coloured circles attached to my bag which I take with me all the time. Each circle is a different colour with the emotion it makes me feel on it too. So if I am out and about and feel I can’t tell someone how I am I can show them the coloured circle I am feeling. By having the circles with me makes it more discreet when out and about as I don’t need to get Lego out.
I find using this resource also really useful after I have had a seizure as I can find it very hard to communicate with others because I find it hard to speak or I am hard for others to understand.
I am now able to use this if I need to when I’m out and about with support workers, my family and friends. Using Lego has helped me a lot in understanding emotions and that it is ok to have mixed emotions!
I was about 8 or 9 when I started horse riding at my local RDA Centre; I am now 20 years old. Through my time horse riding with the RDA I have found that riding isn’t just something I love to do and I look forward to it during the week. It has helped me in many different ways: one of the big ways it has helped me is with my disability.
When I was younger, horse riding was great physiotherapy for me. It was also very clever because I enjoyed it so much I didn’t see it as having to do my daily stretches and exercises my physiotherapist gave me.
Over the years horse riding has helped me build up my muscles and core strength. Horse riding has helped me to improve my balance massively. I remember when I first started riding and my instructor got us to do lots of different activities to help not only build up confidence and communication skills but to also make sure we were working our muscles safely. For example we had to do activities siting on bean bags or balancing a bean bag on our riding hat and try and make sure it didn’t fall off. This helped me to develop better posture in everyday life. At school I used to have problems writing and making sure my posture at the table was good or when I was eating a meal. I found that over time horse riding really helped me to develop better posture and now I can do tasks so much more easily. Doing this also helped me to see if I was sitting properly on the pony. If the bean bag fell off I learnt that my balance was not even and that I was sitting too far over on one side.
Horse riding has helped and continues to help me with my visual perception. I find seeing shapes challenging and this can be confusing. In my lessons I do a lot of work on riding circles evenly as I can sometimes make one side of my circle a lot bigger than the other. During my lessons I may change the rein and to do this I have to ride diagonally across the riding school so now I understand more about what a diagonal is.
Horse riding helps me with my spatial awareness and planning as I have to take into account the other horses and ponies in the school. For example I have to make sure if we are all lined up behind each other that we leave a safe distance between each of us. As well as this sometimes some of the horses and ponies in the class don’t get on very well so we may need to prepare more about who we chose to stand behind. As well as this in some of the activities we do, we may have to halt between cones or on “X” so I need to prepare my halt in advance and make sure my legs are forward and that I am sitting back into the saddle and don’t tip forward.
Lastly going horse riding at the RDA has helped me to feel less alone and not to feel ashamed of who I am because at school other kids bullied me because of my disability. When I’m at RDA I feel accepted and I can be myself.
If you’ve visited my blog or social media pages before you may have noticed a change; yes that’s right I now have a new logo!
My logo was designed and created by one of my best friends Alice Draine who is also a very talented graphic designer. Thank You so much Alice for creating this for me!
I wanted my logo to be personal to me; my favourite colour is purple however I also wanted my logo to be different from what the disability symbol is known and recognised as which is the colour blue.
I like the way the international recognised disabled sign is covered by a figure that looks “normal”. For me this shows and helps to represent that not all disabilities, illnesses and conditions are visible. I feel that this also helps to remind people not to judge a book by its cover. I love the way the disabled symbol shows through the figure and the symbol looks lighter and darker in different lights, it has a sort of translucent effect to it.
As well as this I love the way the figure has dark curly hair like me as I am also known by my curly hair. I feel that the figure helps to bring out more about me and my personality.
I love the type face as it is fun but still easy to read. I like the way the disability symbol sort of points to the lighter coloured words. I think this really helps get my message across that not all disabilities or conditions are the same.
Using the disabled symbol in the design also helps to show what my blog is all about as I write about disability and mental health and my life living with my conditions as well as other topics too.
At the moment I am helping to train the youngest pony at the stables: he is called Billy.
In my horse riding lessons I have worked with him a lot. He has now got so much better doing work in the school with other horses and ponies being in the same arena as him. I have done quite a lot of with him to improve his circles and also making sure he is on the track and goes into the corners. With Billy I do have to work more on making sure he is listening to me as he gets easily distracted and likes to look out of the school doors and see what’s going on.
Recently Billy and I took part in a dressage competition with Dressage Anywhere.This was Billy’s first ever time competing in a dressage competition.
On the day of the dressage competition Billy was fantastic. He was very curious and did enjoy looking at himself in the mirror at times. He was also very interested in the video camera. We joke a lot and say that we think Billy quite fancies being a model. During our dressage routine Billy did amazingly: he was alert but also listening to me. He seemed to take everything in his stride. I was so proud of him especially because it was his first ever dressage competition, so I wasn’t sure how he would react to doing things in the school by himself with no other horses or ponies around with him.
Here is a small clip of different things we did for our dressage.
Billy and I came 1st in the dressage competition which was brilliant: we scored 71.39%. I am so proud of him and how far he has come in such a short space of time. He really is a pot of gold!