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!
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!
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”.
On the 30th March 2019 I went into London with my dad for a workshop all about The Art of Vlogging. This workshop was ran by The Media Trust. The Riding for the Disabled invited me to this workshop as everyone coming to the workshop was involved with Riding for the Disabled in some way.
When I first tried to do a vlog it felt really strange and weird talking to a camera. However as the day went on it became much more easier for me to do.
Throughout the day we learnt about how to do our own vlogs from brainstorming ideas to how to film on our phones and then learning about how to edit our videos on apps such as iMovie.
We learnt about how to film correctly making landscape videos. As well as how to use natural lighting correctly and effectively in our videos . I also learnt about how you can create the mood for your videos using colours and objects in your background and how to link the background with the theme of your video to help tell the story or message of your video to your audience.
Whilst doing this workshop I also learnt about how you can use an online presence to help others in a more positive way and how media platforms like YouTube can help share your stories and experiences to potentially a much wider audience.
Once we finished making and editing our videos I then learnt a little bit about how to make others aware and interested in your YouTube Channel content.
I loved going to this workshop and meeting some amazing people. From going to this workshop it has definitely made me want to create more videos and start my own YouTube Channel. I found doing the whole process of making a video for others to watch a very creative process too which I really enjoyed as I love being creative.
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.
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!
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!