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!
One of my very first riding lessons at RDA. Here I am riding the beautiful Anya.
one of my very first horse riding lessons at RDA riding the beautiful Anya.
I was first bullied in primary school however when I went into secondary school the bullying got a lot worse and on a whole new level. I was getting bullied physically, verbally and online. The thing was I wasn’t just being bullied by people in my Year I was also being bullied by the kids in the older and younger years too. I felt like I just couldn’t escape from it; I was always on edge waiting for the next horrible thing to happen. I felt suicidal it felt like I was living in darkness with no light. When I would come back from school in tears their where days I would cry myself to sleep and wish I wouldn’t wake up.
However there was one place I went to in the week were I just felt so happy, safe and not scared; that special place was going to my local RDA stables for my horse riding lessons. I would look forward to my Saturday horse riding lessons like crazy and when the bad things happened I would just try to think about the amazing horses and ponies at RDA.
There were days when I didn’t want to go horse riding because I was so upset and down from what was happening at school. Sometimes I didn’t think I deserved to go horse riding as the bullies made me feel like a horrible person; who deserved the things that would happen to me daily at school.
Forrester all tacked up ready for his lesson.
In spite of everything when I got to the stables and onto one of the ponies or horses everything changed for the better; I was able to forget about all the horrible things that were happening at school for a few minutes a week. The horses and ponies really helped me to feel like I was good at something. They made me feel that I was needed as they needed to be exercised. The horses and ponies also helped me a lot as I didn’t feel judge by them in anyway, they just accepted me for me and that was amazing in fact they still do!
I remember when I used to do trotting in my lessons, when I was doing trotting I would try and use it to help me to move on from the things I was having done to me during that week at school. Before trotting I wold think about the horrible things that week and then when I got the pony or horse to trot I would try and imagine trotting those experiences away and forgetting about them. I found this a really helpful coping strategy because I would tell teachers about what was happening but nothing was done about it.
The horses and ponies, grooms, riding instructors and other volunteers are all incredible. I don’t know what I would have done or where I would be now if it wasn’t for this amazing charity;that has helped me get through one of the hardest and most painful times in my life, SO THANK YOU!
Every week I have dance class workshops at the theatre groups I attend. When I was younger I also did ballet class once a week. Over the past couple of years I have noticed that dance has a positive impact on my disability. Here are a few ways dancing has helped my disability:
1. Dance does not just help me to stay more fit and active; I find that sometimes dance can help me to express my emotions through a creative outlet without me having to talk to express my emotions and thoughts.
2. Dance helps me to improve my balance as we do a lot of warm up activities that make us need to focus on our balance but also I may need to balance when preparing to do high kicks in our dance routines or fast turns.
3. My disability makes it really hard for me to know the sequence of events. So having to do a dance routine really helps me to work on ways to try and remember a sequence due to the fact that our dances have lots of fast moves one after the other and can be quite quick.
4. I find that we have to use our core muscles a lot to help us stay up right when doing kicks or lifts. So I have found that my upper body strength is improving and that I am able to use my core muscles a lot better now when dancing.
5. I find eye, hand coordination tricky at times however dance helps me to use different parts of my body at the same time. I have found that listening to the music when dancing helps me to keep the rhythm and beat of the dance I am doing.
6. I have found that dance has also helped me to loosen and relax my hand strings. This has helped me a lot as I know can get dismount of the horses and ponies I ride as well as when I am in my riding lessons my legs are more relaxed and not so tight gripping onto the horse.
Billy is a young pony that loves to look around and be the first one to know what’s going on. He is a very sweet curious boy. I love riding him; I fell in love with riding him the first ever lesson we had together. There’s nothing quite like the bond between a pony and its rider.
Recently I was riding Billy in one of my lessons when we went out on a hack in the woods. Riding him now made me think about how far he has come from being the new little boy at the stables. I remember when I first started to ride him last year helping with his training. I helped him learn the ropes of working as an RDA pony.
In the beginning I worked with Billy a lot to try and improve his focus so that he didn’t look out of the riding school as much. He is now so much better but he wouldn’t be him if he wasn’t just a little bit nosey. Billy and I have done lots of work together practising 10 metre circles, doing loops and going in and out of cones. I then started to put halts in to make sure he was listening to me but also to keep him interested and engaged in lessons.
When I go horse riding I do have a lead helper however sometimes I do go off the lead rope. Billy and I have done a couple of loops of the riding school off the lead rope together. I have worked with Billy to make sure he stays on the track and goes into the corners. As well as being able to change of rein in the school with other horses and ponies in the school too without him getting distracted or confused or putting his ears back to to the other ponies and horses.
I’m so proud of Billy and how far he has come. He is now able to be ridden by lots more people. He still sometimes forgets to lift up his feet. I love seeing him learn new things. I love that more people get to ride him now; this fills me with joy knowing that others will love and enjoy riding him too. He is definitely a brilliant and sweet addition to the RDA family!
I can’t wait to ride him again soon and too see what he achieves in years to come!
I remember when I first found out about this online community through Instagram. On Instagram they share stories of many different disabled people from around the world. When I looked at the website a big smile grew across my face. This was because I found a place where disability was embraced and not laughed at.
YOOCAN is an online community where people with disabilities from all over the world can share empowering stories about living life with a disability. Here people write about many topics for example they might do a product recommendation . Or write about what it is like to travel with a disability. Another topic I love to read from is all about other people’s hobbies.
I can’t say how many stories I have read about covering so many different topics. When reading others stories and experiences I feel that I am not alone. I also feel that others get it and understand. It’s a great way to get tips and tricks on things I may find hard to do such as cooking. I have got some good fashion styling tips as well. For example when I wore a splint at school I was bullied for this and wearing one made me feel very self-conscious. I didn’t like showing it so wore trousers quite a lot even in summer. Kids bullied me because I couldn’t wear girls and women’s shoes I had to wear boys shoes as my splint made my shoe size bigger etc. By reading other people’s stories I realised that I wasn’t alone in feeling self- conscious and being bullied for wearing a splint. Reading others experiences made me feel that I was not a freak. I felt like a freak a lot of the time at school as that was one of things other kids called me.
One of the big reasons I love YOOCAN is how people write about their stories and their experiences they have had in a positive way but also keeping it real.
Being part of this community definitely helps me with my confidence and self-esteem as I can also write about my experiences; I find I can really relate to others with thoughts about being a disabled young adult on topics such as having to need more support than others my age. Or when my friends wear high heels but I have to wear flats. Just the simple small day to day things that you wouldn’t really think about or notice.
Lastly I think YOOCAN slogan “do anything” is so positive and sends a very powerful message to everyone. Just because someone has a disability that doesn’t mean they don’t have ambitions and dreams. It doesn’t matter who you are your dreams can come true!
From a young age I have loved baking especially with my mum. As a young child I found it magical to see how the cakes in the oven would change and get bigger and bigger. Or seeing how the biscuits got all golden; not forgetting the wonderful smells they created coming from the oven.
My mum used to come into my primary and do cookery lessons, we learnt how to make lots of different things from cheese scones, jam tarts and marble cake to name a few.
A few years ago I went into a mental health hospital for a couple of weeks. I had 1:1 sessions with the occupational therapist (OT for short). The OT and I had quite a few sessions together baking. We would bake party food together such as cupcakes,biscuits and brownies. I would make party food because when someone was due to leave the ward we would have a little leaving party for them. I enjoyed doing baking activities whilst in hospital as it helped me with my anxiety as I started to feel more comfortable around others. I found by baking it helped me to talk to others and start conversations. People would ask me questions like “what recipe book did you use?”Or “how much chocolate did you use ? “. From just these few questions the conversations I was having grew and before I knew it I had made new friends. I loved seeing others enjoying my baking!
Last year at college I did baking sessions to build up my independent living skills. I would make all the recipes from scratch and my 1:1 helper would help me to make each recipe. I made things such as Victoria Sponge Cake, Black Forest Gateau Cake and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. At college before I made anything I would go on the computer and look at a supermarket website to see how much the ingredients cost and how much I would be spending to make each recipe. I would then go to that supermarket and buy the ingredients I needed.
Chocolate Fridge Cake.
Baking doesn’t just make me feel happy, it helps me build up lots of different skills:
Baking helps me to improve my maths as I have to weigh each ingredient correctly to make sure the recipe turns out right . I also need to make sure the oven is on the correct heat and I have to manage my time efficiently because my baking needs to be done and cooked properly before the end of the day.
Sometimes when baking I will need to rub butter into the flour with my finger tips to make a crumble type mixture, by doing this with my hands I am building up my hand strength; I need to make sure I am building up my strength as I am weaker on one side of my body due to my disability.
I find following recipe instructions sometimes difficult to understand so by trying out new recipes I am not only building up on my reading skills but I start to understand the sequence of the instructions.
At college I enjoyed baking things for when we did cake sales . We raise money for Children in Need, Comic Relief and local charities that helped disabled people and their families.
Before I started riding with the RDA I had riding lessons at a different stable. I had to wait ages to do riding with the RDA because the waiting list was so long. To this day I still remember going to the RDA for the first time for my assessment to see what class I should go in. I’d been so excited about the idea but when it came to it I didn’t want to get on. I thought the pony would be like this very naughty one I used to ride. However when I got on this lovely gentle old pony called Barbie even though I was nervous I began to trust her.
This is me with the beautiful Billy.
I’ve now been riding at the RDA for 9 years and I love it! Going horse riding has helped me in ways I thought wasn’t possible. Not only is it good to do because it helps me to improve my balance and strengthen my body but it’s helped me grow in confidence, helped me get through the week when I was getting badly bullied at both primary and secondary school. You could say it’s my rock and I am always looking forward to the next week. It has also helped my mental health massively. I often say to people it’s funny you know because I trust the horses and ponies I ride more than humans.
Riding the celebrity pony of the stables Forester at The Countryside Challenge Regionals 2011.
This is Bonnie and I at The Countryside Challenge Nationals 2012.
The very cheeky but lovely pony Eddie.
I love all the horses and ponies at South Bucks RDA, some of them have been in the Paralympics. I love to talk to the horses when I ride them as well. I have done the RDA Countryside Challenge Competitions. A couple of times I have been to the regionals and once to the nationals. Once the pony I was riding at the regionals called Eddie was so cheeky he wasn’t allowed to participate in another RDA Countryside Challenge again ! I love how all the horses and ponies have their own personalities and cheeky things they like to do.
Riding the fantastic Pieces at the 1st round of The Countryside Challenge 2018.
In our lessons we have leaders to help us they volunteer for the RDA and without all the volunteers riding these amazing animals would not be possible. Even some of our riding instructors are volunteers too. The volunteers help us during our lessons sometimes we get to ride unled so they help us to make sure we are safe they are all very helpful and I’m always learning new ways to help me ride.
Here I am riding the brilliant Yogi with help from my amazing helper.
In our lessons we practice things such as making sure our ponies and horses walk in a straight line, changing the reins, practising different sized circles, riding round obstacles, and I have done some trotting in the past! In the summer we sometimes go on hacks in the woods.
Going for a hack in the woods
Horse riding gives me so much pleasure and I have so many happy and funny memories that I will have for treasure for ever. My sister has recently become a volunteer which I’m super proud of. My dream one day is to have my own horse! If you’re thinking about trying horse riding my advice would be try it I am so glad I got on Barbie and ever since then I haven’t stopped. If you’re thinking about volunteering at RDA try it you might come back home telling funny stories round the dinner table.